Gardening is good exercise, but if you don’t want to atrophy during the winter, you need a plan.  You also need an attitude.  At least that’s what my dad always said.  “You need to work on your attitude.”  That wisdom has helped me many times.

The battle for a good attitude is often won with words.  While it is definitely good to verbally acknowledge responsibility and desirable habits, it can be helpful to rephrase things.  Think of them in more positive terms.  Hence, I have come up with an outline to help you develop your Gardener’s Winter I Want Workout!

Lady walking with her dog

First of all, instead of pestering yourself with accusations like “I should,” tell yourself what you want to do and why:

  • I want to be able to enjoy gardening and other physical activities (such as….)
  • I want to avoid injury due to weak musculature and joints (when I….)
  • I want to be strong enough (to….)

Once you have at least partly figured out what you want, you can decide other things:

  • Which muscles are going to be specifically targeted?
  • What flexibility and range of motion can be worked on?
  • How much and what kind of aerobic endurance so I can build and maintain?
  • What are the little goals to aim for bigger goals?

It’s not too hard to picture yourself shoveling dirt or lifting pots or pushing a wheelbarrow.  Just thinking about it can make you aware of certain muscles.  Then, you can either come up with your own exercises, or be ready to give a trainer a clear picture of your goals.  If you have had trouble with injuring or straining parts of your body, now is a good time to strengthen them.  


The next step, of course, is to set something in motion.

  • Come up with a schedule that is both practical and likely.  Have just enough flexibility in it, so that you can adjust to life, but aren’t tempted to procrastinate.
  • Determine if you like the gym, a home-based routine, or a combination of both.
  • Have  contingency plans for how you will proceed if there is sickness, uncooperative weather, or unavoidable conflicts.  Having variety in the workout plan helps with this.
  • Pace yourself (your expectations, your level of effort) for enough rest and recovery, in order to prevent injury.
  • Variety in activity keeps it more fun, and also makes it more natural to strengthen your body in a more well-rounded way.
  • When you are tired, or it just feels repetitive, remind yourself that you want to do this.  There is nothing that we like or want to do that is fun every step of the way.
  • Don’t be intimidated by others.  Most people will be encouraging and appreciate any encouragement you give them.

Having a good winter workout plan and routine is an important part of having a good gardening experience.  Gardening is more fun if a body has enough strength and stamina to get things done!

Boy running with his dog

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