Getting Fit in the Garden

Winter is a season of hibernation.  We typically pack on a few pounds, snuggle up under fuzzy blankets on the couch, and wait for spring to arrive.  Time is often spent perusing design magazines and catalogues or dreaming of how our gardens will look as they begin to come alive.  This year, I sought to change that routine a bit.

Like many others, I now sport a new fashion accessory, a device that counts my steps, calculates my calories burned and tells me how many flights of stairs I have climbed.  Achieving my goal of 10,000 steps a day is no problem during prime gardening season.  I typically double that number on any given weekend day. 
Proof that a garden workout is a good one!
Achieving that goal is a bigger challenge in the winter months, but I have done fairly well.  Of course I can go to the gym and hop on treadmill or take a spinning class to get in my steps, which I do on a regular basis.  I could also do a body pump class to keep my muscles strong.  But I say, why bother?  I have all the strength training equipment I need in the garden. 

Those who don’t garden, may think of the activity as wimpy. How hard is it to pull a few weeds or dig a hole for a plant?  Those who garden know that it can be quite the workout.  For example, I recently had a tree taken down.  I had someone saw it in to large pieces about 24 inches long and 18 inches in diameter; that’s when the heavy lifting began.  For hours I did squats and lifted large logs into the wheelbarrow.  Then I pushed the heavy wheelbarrow to a staging area where I’ll later split the logs into firewood-sized pieces.  Who needs weight lifting equipment when you have trees to manage?

The result of my wood moving workout.

In addition to the large pieces of wood, the men who took down the tree left a large pile of wood chips for me to use.  You guessed it; another garden workout in the making. With pitchfork in hand, I tested my arm and back strength by filling up the wheelbarrow with wood chips and then dumping load after load onto my woodland trail.  Once the piles of wood chips were deposited along the path, I raked them into an even layer, creating a lovely and long-wearing, natural carpet.

The woodland trail covered in a carpet of wood chips.

A couple other strength training workouts include carrying buckets of water to the far ends of my 1.5 acre garden where the hose won’t reach, digging holes through clay soil, and lifting rocks out of the way when they are located where I want to place a plant.  I am sure you can think of many more ways to get in shape in the garden.  So, the next time you are sitting on your couch pondering the desire to get more fit, take a look outside.  I can guarantee there’s a garden workout just waiting for you. 


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