Play in the dirt on National Gardening Exercise Day
If you have a garden, or participate in community gardening or balcony gardening, June 6 is the perfect day to get out and get dirty because it’s National Gardening Exercise Day!
Gardening can be a workout all on its own, so you should always be careful and make sure you warm up your muscles before you get going, especially if it’s your first time out this season. Take time to do some gentle stretches like the shoulder rolls, wrist flexes, and thigh and back stretches Garden Making recommends.
The idea behind National Gardening Exercise Day is to help you maximize the benefits of gardening by adding in some extra movement. If you’re able, you might try:
- Squats: Start with your feet hip distance apart, toes pointing forward. Let your body lean slightly forward and engage your abdominals as you bend your knees as though you’re sitting down. Hold for about five seconds, and then rise back up to your start position. Repeat eight to 10 times. Hold on to something sturdy, such as a table or wall, if you find it difficult to balance1
- Lunges. Think of lunges as an exaggerated walk. They will help with stability on uneven surfaces, as well as strengthening your feet, legs, glutes and abdominals, which again act as stabilizers. Standing tall with your feet hip distance apart and toes pointing forward, take a big step forward while letting your back knee bend toward the floor without touching it. Use your front leg to push yourself back up to your start position. If you need a little help, simply place one hand on the wall. Repeat 12 times on each leg2
- As you age, it’s important to incorporate functional training into your workouts, because everyday activities, such as stepping up on a curb, can cause an injury. Any exercise that mimics everyday movements is a great idea. Standing in front of a step (or your stairs), step up with your right foot. Bring your left foot up and then step down with your right foot. Repeat this sequence starting with the left foot. Repeat the entire set 15 times3
But remember, even if “all” you do is turn the soil, pull the weeds, mow the lawn and plant some new flowers, you’ll still be giving your body a fantastic workout while you’re making your gardens look gorgeous! Check out how many calories those activities burn:4
- Mowing the lawn: 250-350 calories per hour
- Pulling weeds and planting flowers: 200-400 calories per hour
- Raking and bagging weeds: 250-450 calories per hour
- Heavy yard work (like landscaping, moving rocks and hauling dirt): 400-600 calories per hour
Remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water while you’re gardening, and check with your doctor before doing any heavy yard work, especially if you have underlying health issues or haven’t been to the doctor or had your blood pressure checked in a while. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
For more information on the benefits of exercise as we age, including how much and what kind of exercise we should be getting, read our article, Move it or lose it.
417028D CAN/US (06/19)