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Exercise Tips for Gardeners

Try these exercises to protect your lower back and knees while gardening.

An hour of gardening can reduce stress, boost bone density, and burn a whopping 300 calories. But all that bending, squatting, raking, and lifting can challenge muscles as much as any competitive sport.

See also: Losing 60 Pounds at Age 60.

Protect your lower back and knees when gardening. — Masterfile

"The lower back and knees most often pay the price," says Rachel Hazuga, M.S., an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse.

Here are the ways to properly perform the most common gardening maneuvers, plus a few exercises to strengthen your gardening muscles.

Bending

Muscles used: Abs, back, legs.

The right way to do it: Focus on tightening your leg muscles (your quadriceps and your hamstrings) as you bend forward. Keep your knees slightly bent.

Try this exercise: Bird dog

Get down on all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles while simultaneously raising your right arm and straightening your left leg, keeping your back straight. Hold for 6 seconds. Return to the starting position, switch sides and repeat 10 times.

Raking

Muscles used: Core, shoulders, arms.

The right way to do it: Use short, quick motions, and keep the rake close to your body.  Switch sides every 2 to 3 minutes.

Try this exercise: Countertop pushup

Stand facing a countertop, with your hands shoulder width apart on the counter. Tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight as you bend your arms into a pushup position. Straighten your arms, and repeat 15 times Use short, quick motions, and keep the rake close to your body. Switch sides every 2 to 3 minutes.

Next: The right way to push a wheelbarrow and squat. >>

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