When you head out into the garden with spade and watering can in hand, you’re also planting the seeds of good health. According to the National Institutes of Health, an average sized woman can burn 370 calories an hour while gardening and a man can burn 460, similar to walking briskly. In addition, your efforts can result in heart-healthy fruits and vegetables. Although you may think of it as a spring and summer activity, you can still burn off plenty of calories in your garden this fall. Now is the time to remove plant debris, cut back foliage, water perennials and trees, and spread mulch as necessary.
While you’re out getting in touch with nature, keep these tips in mind to avoid injuries:
- Always wear gloves. These can protect you from a variety of threats, including cuts (which can get infected from germs in the dirt) and insect bites.
- Vary your routine. Lots of motions in the garden, such as digging and picking, can overuse your wrists and joints. Every 15 minutes, take a rest or switch off to a new activity for awhile to give your working parts a break.
- Get a good handle on your tools. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, it’s best to avoid tools with finger grips molded into the handle. Your hands likely won’t fit the grooves perfectly, requiring you to use more hand pressure to control the tool, which can cause soreness.
- Stay seated. Use a small stool or bench madefor gardening when you’re working close to the ground rather than sitting back on your knees, which isn’t good for the joints.
- Dig properly. Use a shovel or spade to dig into the dirt - not your hand. The soil hides plenty of sharp objects that can cut you even if you’re wearing gloves.
- Use good posture. When carrying heavy items, use both hands and distribute the load evenly on your body
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