Thursday, January 19, 2012

Get fit for gardening season

It may have snowed two nights ago here in Portland, and I'll I admit I'm a bit of a gardening sloth during the winter, but come January, I'm itching to get my hands dirty and grow some 'maters and beets in the veggie garden!

At the first sign of the croci peeping up in the yard, a lot of folks jump into gardening like they've been at it all winter. Well, just like any other physical activity, if it's been months since you were up close and personal with your yard, you probably need to do some pre-season body conditioning.

Here are a few of my favorite strengthening exercises to get garden-fit.

1) If you haven't been active all winter, I'd suggest getting out for more walks. Move briskly so you get that heart rate up to a challenging but sustainable rate. Depending on your current level starting with just 20 minutes a day will make a difference. Already walking? Go further, faster and add some hills and stairs. The idea is to challenge yourself so you improve your current fitness level. Tune in to your body!

2) You'll be up, down and all around your yard soon, so starting with some squats to strengthen your legs is a good idea. Imagine sitting over a chair, weight in your heels, knees behind or inline with your knees in the squat position, hold abs in, shoulders back and down. 10-20 reps to begin.

Photo of a proper squat from Harvard Public Health Ed blog

3) I heart dead bugs! No, not literally dead bugs, the exercise. Start on your back with abs engaged and back neutral. Arms extended to the ceiling, and knees bent at a right angle above your hips. Reach left leg and arm to the opposite wall, and extend right arm to wall behind you with your right kneed coming to your chest. Alternate arms slowly, with control and abs drawn in and shoulders neutral on back. Work up to a set of 40-60 reps over time. Starting with 10 is just fine!

Here's a great photo of a deadbug from the Arthritis Today website

4) Last but not least, I'd throw in some pilates breaststroke exercises. Start prone (on your front), arms bent at your sides and hands at your shoulders. Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you dive into the water, arms reaching out over floor (see top pic) then inhale as you draw head and chest above the water (second pic). Draw belly button away from the floor and engage your bootie a bit. You should not feel pressure in your low back. If so, see previous tips or turn legs out slightly from the hips. 8-10 reps

A beautiful example of the pilates breaststroke by
Heather Glidden with

These 4 exercises could be performed daily. You could add additional sets as you advance over the next few weeks as we wait for spring to arrive! I'll show you some excellent stretches next time, so stay tuned!

Talk to your health care provider prior to starting a new exercise program.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good stuff Kristin..

Starting to stretch for those target muscles that are used in gardening is a great thing too.

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