Tips for Gardeners

In common with other forms of exercise, gardening releases mood-boosting chemicals such as endorphins, helps to lower blood pressure and keep the heart healthy.

Gardening is excellent exercise: an hour can burn up to 300 calories and exercise our whole body, making it comparable to a gym work out, with the added bonus of fresh air.

It’s also excellent for the nerves and mind, and can be very relaxing, even meditative. In common with other forms of exercise, gardening releases mood-boosting chemicals such as endorphins, helps to lower blood pressure and keep the heart healthy. Research also shows that exposure to the healthy bacteria in the soil is good for gut health.

Here’s a few tips for take care of your body while enjoying your garden.

Bending

Muscles used: Abs, back, legs

How to: Keep your leg muscles tight and your knees a little bent as you bend forwards. This helps protect your lower back and knees from taking too much of the strain.

Aftercare: Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Stay in that position for up to 30 seconds and you can also choose to roll in small circles on the bottom of your back if that feels good.

Raking

Muscles used: core, shoulders, arms

How to: Make sure to hold the rake close to you and use quick, short strokes to wield the rake. Keep switching between your left and right sides every couple of minutes.

Aftercare: Bring your arms behind your back, hold one hand in the other and gentle pull down towards the floor.

Wheelbarrow

Muscles used: Core, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, shoulders, arms

How to: Err on the side of caution in terms of how much weight you put in the barrow. Start small and build up until you find a comfortable level that you can handle without it being a strain. Bend your knees and take hold of the handles. Use your leg muscles to lift, not your lower back. Push forward with your arms.

Aftercare:

  • Put one leg out and lunge gently forwards until you feel a stretch. Hold for 20 seconds max. Repeat on other side.

  • Standing on one leg, supporting yourself on a wall if needed, bend your leg up and hold your foot up by your bum. Hold for around 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

  • Standing with feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent, swing your arms from side to side a few times, then bend the knees more and twist the body from side to side a few times.

Squatting

Muscles used: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings

How to: Keep your body straight, paying particular attention to your back and lower yourself towards the ground by slowly bending your knees. Once on the floor, keep your weight on your heels as much as you can.

Aftercare:

  • Sitting on the floor, make sure your sit bones are in as much contact with the ground as possible. Gently lean forwards and stretch your hands towards your toes. Just go as far as you can while feeling a stretch, don’t overdo this. If you feel a strain in your back or legs, pull back.

  • You can also do this standing up – bend from the waist and hang your arms down, reaching towards the floor. Again, just feel a gentle stretch, don’t strain.

Weeding

Muscles used: Shoulders, arms and hands

How to: Keep swapping between left and right so one side doesn’t take all the strain. Use the forward movement of your body to give power to the movement – try to move from your waist and hips, not just your shoulders and arms.

Aftercare:

  • Hold your arm straight out in front of you with your palm upwards. Pull your fingers back towards you until you feel a stretch. Repeat on the other side.

  • Rotate both wrists in both directions.

  • Wiggle, stretch and pull your fingers as feels comfortable and enjoyable.

This information is designed for use in consultation with a trained massage professional. You attempt without supervision at your own risk, so go gentle and take care.

Page photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash