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Gardening can be a form of exercise

Gardening can be a form of exercise

Heart disease is the no. 1 killer in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that this illness is responsible for 25 percent of all deaths, accounting for about 600,000 fatalities in the country every year.

These trends are inspiring more and more Americans to become heart-health conscious. Boosting cardiovascular fitness includes many different regimens, including consumption of omega-3 supplements, a well-balanced diet full of fresh produce and fiber, and plenty of exercise.

This last facet of cardiovascular health may be a bit challenging. Between work, a social life, raising a family and maintaining a home, some people may find it difficult to squeeze in the time for a fitness routine. However, the key may lie in getting creative with the time that they do have.

For example, with spring well upon us, gardening can prove to be a fun and fulfilling hobby. Additionally, this activity is physically demanding, making it a perfect opportunity to get some exercise without having to go to the gym or buy expensive equipment.

Still, prospective gardeners need to remember not to jump into things blindly.

Keep activity up at a steady pace

While gardening for fitness sounds exciting, it won’t be beneficial unless it’s practiced the right way. This means maintaining a steady pace of moderate-intensity activity rather than overdoing it with vigorous-intensity activity, according to a column published by the National Gardening Association. Studies have shown that people who are usually inactive or get no exercise whatsoever can experience heart trouble if they engage in vigorous-intensity regimens.

When it comes to gardening, a steady pace of exercise could mean parsing out 8-minute intervals of activity throughout the day with a goal of accumulating 30 minutes of exercise, rather than using all of this time at once.

The NGA had several tips on how to burn the most calories while gardening:

  • Use a push-powered lawnmower rather than one that uses gas
  • Start a compost pile, which will require regular turning
  • Dig holes
  • Vary activities to switch up usage of muscle groups; this can include pruning, raking, bagging leaves, planting seedlings and weeding
  • Stretch before and after gardening to help make sure the muscles don’t become stiff and sore

Experts from the Texas A&M University System also had advice on how gardeners can protect themselves from injury. Those who spend time on their knees should so with a cushion instead of sitting on their heels. The back should be kept straight at all times, especially when heavy objects need lifting. People should always bend at the knees and hips.

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