Simple tips to keep your body safe as you exercise your green thumb.
You don't have to work out in a gym—tending your garden is also good for you. Planting your own flowers, vegetables, trees and bushes helps you unwind, gently works your muscles and even supports your immune system, according to some experts. Scientists have even found that gardening ranks next to weight training when it comes to strengthening your bones. It also works great for arthritis if you follow a few rules:
Always do a warm-up and stretch your muscles before you start working in your yard. Use long-handled tools with easy-to-grip padding and bend as little as possible. If you have to stoop, bend at the knees and keep your back straight. For work that takes longer, sit on a low chair or on your knees.
Don't carry too heavy a load and make sure you have everything you need close by. Provide for a nearby water source and toolshed. Wear an apron with enough pockets for your most important tools. Use a hand truck or dolly for heavy items such as soil, fertilizer, etc.
Change positions often and alternate with walks. If you feel tired or worn out, stop working. Gardening several times a week for a short while is better than exhausting yourself once a week.
Plant perennial and easy-to-care-for plants that don't require regular pruning. Even if you don't have a garden or cannot stoop to seed flowerbeds, you can use containers or clay pots. Just remember: Gardening is all about the pleasure of seeing your own plants grow.