Stay Strong for Garden Season

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


Stay Strong for Garden Season

Gardening is good for your health.

According to a recent study in the Netherlands, it’s great for stress relief. Why? Most of us sit at our desks and pay close attention to computer screens all day. Gardening allows our minds time to rest. It’s called Attention Restoration Therapy. A rested mind is a happy one and simply works better.

In other words, watching grass grow is good for you.
Soil makes us healthier, too. Several studies, including one by Dr. Chris Lowry, from Bristol University, showed that Mycobacterium vaccae, a good strain of bacteria found in soil, increases serotonin levels, elevating mood. It can also decrease anxiety. See, gardening is so good for us!

Active gardening can burn between 200 and 400 calories per hour, and heavy yard work 400-600, but only if you work at it. Gardening can be hard on your joints so you need to remain strong to play at your favorite hobby. Staying in shape throughout your life keeps injuries at bay. Indulge in an exercise program now so you can garden well into your 80s and perhaps, even longer.

How, you ask?

Start exercising. It sounds simple, and it is. The first week of good weather used to wreak havoc on my entire system. I was so tired and achy from garden chores—see calories burned, above—that I thought I’d die. If you get in shape over winter, however, you won’t be as sore when there’s heavy lifting on the garden chore chart. I’ve done it both ways, and I promise, it’s best to stay in shape. I’d much rather sit in my favorite chair and hibernate throughout winter leafing through seed catalogs and reading good garden books. I still do that some, but exercise is the lubricant that keeps my motor running.

Stay Strong for Garden Season Backyard-in-winter

After two weeks of walking hills on the treadmill and lifting weights, I felt more fit and happier. After a month, my smaller jeans fit too. Exercise and a good self image also raise serotonin levels.

Stay Strong for Garden Season Backyard-in-winter Pruning

Once I looked to my older gardening friends for inspiration. Although they cautioned me not to grow my garden any larger, they both maintained plots much larger than mine while in their 60s and 70s. They both walked everyday for exercise, and one still attends the gym regularly. Now, I look to my son. He is a weight lifter and body builder, and I’ve watched him go from someone who was in pretty good shape to excellent shape in the last two years. Here are his tips:

• It’s all about input and output. Don’t eat more calories than you burn.

• Make exercise a routine. Start slow and work your way up. Work out at least four times a week. (He works out five.)

• Push your body. Limitations are in your mind. Now, he’s eighteen so take this one with a grain of salt. Don’t push yourself too hard at first and listen to your joints. You don’t want injury to ruin a good thing.

•Lift weights. While you don’t need to lift as if you’re competing for a national title, weight bearing exercise is good for your bones. This is very important for women because we don’t want osteoporosis in our golden years.

• Lay off sugar and empty carbs. They hurt your body and halt progress.

• Eat small meals throughout the day to keep energy constant. Fruit, protein and vegetables should be your main foods.

• The key is consistency. Don’t give up. If your routine gets out of whack, and whose doesn’t, just get back to it as soon as possible.

But, if you don’t want to go to the gym, here are seven great strength exercises demonstrated by Erica on Northwest Edible Life. You can do these at home. They mimic gardening tasks.

Stay Strong for Garden Season shovel

I also admire my friend, Robin Wedewer’s workout routine. She’s in great shape and no wonder. She is consistent with her exercise and diet. Being goal oriented, Robin tells herself she is training for an event. Once, a trainer told her that event was her life. Train for spring. Train for your life. It’s the only one you’ve got.