Today is National Gardening Exercise Day and on this day, and you will come across¬†garden clubs encouraging¬†people to substitute the phrase “yard work” with “yard exercise.”

The theory is, with a little mindfulness, tending the lawn or garden will no longer be a “chore” but a great way to stay physically fit.

Now don’t feel that you have to “go for the burn” or exercise in the garden aerobically every time. Modify the program to meet your individual needs. At the very least, using these techniques will help reduce back strain and muscle soreness so often associated with gardening.

Jeffrey Restuccio, an author and speaker on the subject of gardening and exercise, offers these pointers to get the most physical benefit out of gardening and to reduce the back strain and muscle soreness:

1) Warm up your muscles before you garden for five to ten minutes.

2) Stretch for five to ten minutes. Stretching will help relieve back strain and muscle soreness and avoid injury.

3) Plan your gardening exercise session to include a variety of movements such as raking, mowing, weeding, pruning and digging and alternate between them often, perhaps every fifteen minutes.

Don’t bend from the back as you rake or hoe. If you make just one change, this should be it. Bend from the knees and use your legs, shoulders and arms in a rocking motion. Also alternate your stance between right-handed and left-handed. Alternating stance balances the muscles used.

4) Ideally, you should stretch again after you have thoroughly warmed up your muscles with 15 to 20 minutes of steady raking, hoeing, weeding, planting or mowing.

5) Cool down after your gardening exercise session by walking, picking flowers or vegetables or just enjoying the fruits of your “exercise.”

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