Gardening is a great form of exercise and a morning spent in the garden provides me with a better workout than my usual 30 minute walk. However, all the digging, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, walking and squatting that gets my heart rate up and helps keep me in shape can also leave me with sore, strained muscles if I don’t warm up properly. I use these quick garden stretches to prevent muscle strain and injury before heading out to play in garden (or yard) and it only takes about 5 minutes to go through the warm-up routine.
Upper Body Stretch
Stand in a doorway and lift arms over head and reach upwards, then lower arms to sides and repeat three times. Breathe in as you raise arms, exhale as you lower them. Next, grasp the side of the door frame with elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. Take a small step forward then slowly lean forward until you feel your arms and chest muscles stretching. Hold five seconds, lean back and repeat two more times.
Step out of the door frame and stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart. Extend right arm over head and leave left arm at your side. Lean slightly towards your left side while reaching up with your right hand until you feel your right side stretching. Don’t bounce and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on other side, stretching each side twice.
Back Warm Up
Stand up straight and raise both arms over head and clasp hands, Lean slightly backwards until you feel a stretch in your abdomen. Hold five seconds then bend over and touch your toes (or get as close as you can) and hold five seconds. Repeat twice.
Now as you head out the door and down the steps, stop at the bottom step to stretch your hamstrings. Stand facing the steps and a foot and a half away from the lowest step. Place right foot on lowest step. Bend right knee and slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your right thigh (hamstring). Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat with other leg, stretching each hamstring
The final warm-up exercise before getting into the heavy garden work is to take a brisk walk around your garden and landscape for a quick inspection of plants. This will give you a visual of what tools you will need for the morning chores and get your heart rate climbing up to the beneficial aerobic level.