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Working Out in the Garden

Take steps to get healthful benefits from your yardwork

SUNDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Beautiful blossoms aren't the only reward you get from gardening. It's also a good workout.

"Working in your garden is a great way to exercise. Whether pulling weeds or spreading mulch, you are using major muscles all over your body and you're sure to break a sweat," Kara Smith, special programs coordinator for the Loyola University Health System's Center for Fitness, said in a news release.

She offered the following gardening exercise and safety tips:

  • Establish a regular gardening routine that includes 30 to 60 minutes of yard work two to three times a week.
  • Take a brisk walk around the yard to warm up your body before you start gardening.
  • If raking is required, make sure to alternate your movement, using both sides of your body to ensure they get an equal amount of work.
  • Also switch hands often when digging, using both arms. This helps prevent blisters, repetitive motion injuries and muscle imbalances.
  • Take a break to drink some water.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • When lifting heavy items, bend at the knees and keep your back straight.
  • Invest in a kneeling cushion to support and protect your knees.
  • Wear gloves to avoid getting blisters on your hands.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers additional gardening health and safety tips.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, news release, June 2009

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