Do you think yard work is just work without any physical benefits? Think again! Yard work is definitely work…but it can be a beneficial workout! I recently completed some yardwork in my own backyard and was able to gain the physical and mental benefits of finishing the yardwork. I was able to get my heart rate up, break a sweat, and feel my muscles working how they normally do when I am working out at the gym. Take the opportunity this spring to clean up your yard yourself, it will save you money and keep you healthy!
When participating in raking leaves, spreading dirt, hauling mulch, gardening, or pulling weeds, you’re sure going to break a sweat. Yardwork activates all your major muscle groups, even with the most simple task such as planting flowers. When planting flowers you are mostly likely squatting down, which relies on your leg muscles for support, your core for balance, and the muscles of your arms and shoulders for digging. If you work with diligence, you’ll be able to get an aerobic workout, which benefits your heart and lungs.
Besides the physical benefits of working outdoors, fresh air is excellent for your mental health-uplifting and good for stress relief. Additionally, sunshine can help boost Vitamin D, which helps prevent osteoporosis (just remember to apply sunscreen and other skin-protecting items). There have been studies conducted which include the soil-human health connection. So, don’t be afraid to get a little dirty and work hard!
Read over my tips on how to maximize your yard workout.
- Use a Push Mower: Use a push mower instead of a riding tractor for an intense workout that elevates your heart rate and burns more calories.
- Vary Your Movement: When raking leaves, switch the direction and movement to target different muscles and prevent repetitive motions. This will also help prevent blisters by avoiding repetitive motions.
- Take Extra Loops: If you’re using a wheelbarrow, take an extra loop or two around your garden to increase the intensity.
- Use Both Arms: When digging, switch back and forth between hands to work both arms evenly.
- Use a Heavy Hose: Instead of a small watering can use a heavy hose to work your muscles. When you’re done, you’ll also have to use your muscle to wind up the hose and put it away.
Preventing Soreness After Yard Work:
- Warm Up: Always warm up before starting yard work by taking a short walk around your yard or down the block, this will get the blood flowing into your muscles.
- Stretch: Do light stretches for your hamstrings and lower back to prevent soreness from bending, do this after your warm-up.
- Take Breaks: Take frequent breaks throughout the day, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and do some additional stretching to stay limber.
- Squat When Picking Up: Use your legs to squat when picking up heavy things instead of bending over.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Make sure to stay hydrated by taking frequent water breaks throughout the day.
Yard work is a great way to get a workout and improve your physical health while enjoying the fresh air. Use these tips to maximize your yard workout and prevent soreness.
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Dr. Joseph Guettler is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine, as well as surgery of the knee, shoulder, and elbow. His office is located in Bingham Farms, MI. Visit www.miorthosurgeons.com for more information on Dr. Guettler and his practice, Michigan Orthopaedic Surgeons.