Your Active Lifestyle: Getting Ready for Gardening

Written by Kerry St George and Shayla Krowiak of the Wellness Institute

This year has been declared the Year of the Garden 2022, which officially started on the first day of spring. Gardens and gardening have many health benefits. Not only can we enjoy the freshness of vegetables and herbs, we can also get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. In fact, you can burn approximately 200-400 calories per hour of garden work. Digging in the soil reduces stress and promotes a sense of wellbeing. The visual appeal of a garden provides both enjoyment and relaxation, while the scents provide a natural aromatherapy.

Like any activity we have not performed regularly, it is important to prepare our bodies for the physical demands of gardening. Often, we jump into the garden as soon as the weather permits after our long winters, and are surprised when our first couple days of gardening turn into a week or more of pain and stiffness. So, to help you prepare for this crucial first step of gardening, we have the following preseason warm up recommendations:

Begin with 15 minutes of brisk walking to warm up the body. If you are not ready to head outside for a walk, marching on the spot will work too.

Back Stretch

Sitting tall with feet hip distance apart, clasp your hands together and reach up towards the sky, then bend forward slowly reaching towards the ground bring arms between your legs.

Trunk Rotation

Sitting tall in a chair with your arms crossed across your chest, rotate your trunk first in one direction and repeat in the other direction.

Hip Stretch

While sitting tall on the chair, place one ankle over the opposite knee creating a shape of the number 4. Gently press your upper leg downward to stretch your hip.

Walking Lunge

Standing tall, step forward and bend your back knee towards the ground, lowering into a lunge position.  Push yourself up to standing position and step forward with your other leg (moving your body forward) and repeat lowering into a lunge position. 

  • Only go as low as you are able
  • As you get stronger, you will be able to go lower so your thigh is parallel with the floor.
  • If you have poor balance or not strong enough yet, do static lunges, returning to the same starting standing position and repeating with the other side
  • The better you are able to lunge, the less likely you will be tempted to bend over and arch your back while working in your garden which will cause a sore back.

Dumbbell Deadlift

Dumbbell Deadlift mimics the motion you use when you bend to pull a weed or pick up a bag of compost.

  • Stand tall with feet hip width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you lined up with your front thighs.
  • Keeping your spine straight, push your buttock backwards, bending forward while lowering the weight towards the floor.
  • Bend your knees slightly
  • Keep your shoulders down and back and look forward, not downward.

For other gardening exercise suggestions, please feel free to ask any of our Wellness Consultants or Physiotherapists. As with any new exercise routine, start slowly and gradually increase your repetitions and duration of the exercise. Over the next 4 to 6 weeks, and by the time we can start to work in our gardens, you will have your preseason gardening warm up completed!