While some garden tasks are performed standing up, many require prolonged kneeling or squatting, in addition to a forward leaning (spinal flexion) position, which can quickly fatigue the muscles of the trunk.
Getting the body used to being in these positions is important before spring planting intensity reaches its peak. Even people who are regularly physically active can feel stiff and sore after their first full day of working in the garden. By age 40 most people experience a gradual decline in strength, flexibility, lean tissue mass, collagen production and cartilage density. Without the intervention of regular physical activity, this sets one up for sarcopenia, joint pain and even osteoporosis.
Adding some basic muscle conditioning and mobility exercise to the daily routine will go a long way to make the physical demands of gardening easier and more enjoyable. One doesn’t have to become an athlete, join a gym or invest a big chunk of time. 20 minutes a day is plenty! Of course if you are accustomed to more vigorous workouts, you may already be incorporating several of the below-listed components into your routine.
While we stay connected virtually, I would be happy to answer any questions about physical conditioning: just shoot me an email. Perhaps the extra time at home this season will mean some truly magnificent and deeply satisfying gardens, starting with the joy of digging into the soil and knowing that one’s body is ready to assist.
Laurie Smith, new-ish WVGC member, is a registered Medical Exercise Specialist since 1999 and a certified Health Coach with the American Council on Exercise. She can be reached via email at: email@example.com