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Need a workout?:

If you think you don't have time for a workout, try gardening.
By Motherpedia
Date: April 20 2013
Editor Rating:
gardening2

Gardens can be great training grounds for fitness buffs.

Add an area for jogging. Build benches for workouts. Use trees and fence posts for stretching. Lose even more calories by squatting or lifting while weeding, planting, hauling and digging.

You can personalise your garden to fit your energy level. Equipment such as exercise beams and conditioning ladders are inexpensive and simple to make, while portable gear like weighted rollers, jump ropes, dumbbells and Swiss balls can be eased into the routines.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many illnesses, and gardening can provide it.

Gardening alone can be a formidable calorie burner, says physiotherapist Jacqueline Knox who wrote Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness with landscape gardener Bunny Guinness.

Here are their tips for things to do around the garden to help your fitness routine.

If you have children's play equipment, it is easy to add a pull-up bar or climbing frame for adults to a tree house.

“Raking is like using a rowing machine," Knox says.

"Turning a compost pile is similar to lifting weights. Carry 2 litre sprinkling cans in each hand and you've got 2.5kg dumbbells.

Pushing a lawnmower is like walking on a treadmill, only much more interesting.

Knox and Guinness say even more calories are burned when calisthenics are included in the mix. Add push-ups, chin-ups, bridging, power lunges and dips to the workouts.

Warm up before you begin to avoid cramping and joint pain. Pace yourself. Hydrate, especially if you're gardening out in the sun. Avoid bending by using telescoping pruners, edgers and weeders. Opt for lightweight and easy-to-grip hand tools.

Work ergonomically. Stress good posture and balance.

“If you’ve had a back issue, follow advice advice and be careful to kneel instead of stooping while gardening, and to lift with bent knees and a straight back," Knox says.

"One of the things I like most about gardening is that because you stretch and move in so many directions, it works all your muscle groups, releasing tension everywhere in your body."

Don't forget to include mental health in your landscape design. Add tranquil herb gardens, soothing fountains and small sitting areas for meditation, relaxing and cooling off.

"Any gardener can tell you that there is nothing like spending time outdoors gardening to refresh the soul," Guinness says.  

Good nutrition is also an important part of any fitness package, and few things taste better than food served fresh from the garden.

"If you can boost your health and avoid stresses and strains in the process, it becomes all the more satisfying," said Guinness.

* * *

Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness is available from Amazon.

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