Your everyday activities

January 9, 2008 6:05:13 PM PST
June is prime season for gardening. Not only can it be a fun, relaxing, and rewarding way to spend time outdoors, it is also great exercise. Gardening can burn an average of 300 calories per hour, and is an effective form of resistance training. Moderate-intensity activities such as raking, digging, and planting provide a sufficient amount of physical activity to lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The tasks of gardening require the use of muscles that may not have been active for awhile, so start slowly. Raking and hoeing will work your upper body muscles, while digging targets the lower body. And you can get your heart pumping by cutting the grass with a push mower.

Remember to use good posture and positioning to avoid injury, and keep all of your motions smooth and steady. An aching back is a common post-gardening complaint. This can be remedied by using your legs, not your back, and keeping your knees flexed when lifting wheelbarrows or heavy planters. When digging, don't twist your back. Instead, lift your front foot, point it in the right direction, and turn your body. Keep your knees bent and alternate which foot you lead with to help you focus on your movements.

Gardening is something you can enjoy throughout your life. So get outdoors, breathe fresh air, feel creative, and tone your muscles. You're feel better and reap the boundless rewards offered by the sight of the first blooms, or the taste of the vine-ripened vegetables you've nurtured to maturity. The Houston YMCA is an advertiser in our 'Get Healthy Houston' program