Moger: Shape up with yard work

It's time to start thinking about yard work and spring cleaning.

Many are discouraged by yard work and spring cleaning, but the many activities involved have many health benefits.

Yard work, spring cleaning and gardening can be a very enjoyable form of exercise and improve endurance, strength and flexibility.

Along with increased strength and improved cardiovascular system, yard work also improves your entire sense of flexibility. Because you’re using your whole body, the muscles and joints are fluid and moving in all types of directions, which increases your ability to prevent muscle pain, inflammation and static muscles from inactivity.

Just like you would before any work out, it’s important to do a proper warm-up before starting yard work.

This can include walking around your yard and getting a sense of how much work needs to be done. Incorporate swinging arms, arm circles and reaching exercises to engage your shoulders and upper body. This type of dynamic stretching will get the blood flowing to your muscles release synovial fluid to your joint which is a thick liquid that lubricates the joint and allows for ease of movement.

Prevent muscle imbalances

• When you are raking leaves be sure to change the movement and direction to make full use of your muscles raking both right and left to work both arms evenly.

• When digging switch back-and-forth between hands so that you’re utilizing both arms and prevent blisters. Using your rake, shovel or broom works all the major muscles in your upper body including your back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps.

• Bagging leaves and picking up branches and garbage is a great way to work your legs, glutes and back, but be careful to minimize back strain through careful lifting.

Follow these tips to avoid compressing the spinal discs or straining your lower back when you are lifting:

  • Keep a wide base of support. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead of the other
  • Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only.
  • Keep good posture. Look straight ahead, and keep your back straight, your chest out, and your shoulders back. This helps keep your upper back straight while having a slight arch in your lower back
  • Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees (not your back). Keep your back straight, and don’t twist as you lift
  • Hold the load as close to your body as possible, at the level of your belly button
  • Use your feet to change direction, taking small steps
  • Lead with your hips as you change direction. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move
  • Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.

 

Stretch

You will likely experience some aching muscles especially in your lower back and hamstrings after a lot of bending. Be sure to do some light stretching for all your major muscles worked.

Be careful: Preventable accidents and injuries increase with spring gardening and yard due to the use of power lawn, garden tools and ladders

Being outside is a also a great way to relieve stress and relax. Iin addition, sunshine helps boost vitamin D production which aids in the absorption of calcium.

Consider changing up your exercise routine this spring to include some fresh air and think about yard cleanup as the ultimate full body workout.