Posted on 21 January 2012 by urbangardencasual.com

Gardener’s Garden Bootcamp

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By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Growing up on a farm, I have always been physically active.

As a matter of fact, I mowed my family’s farm with not a tractor or riding lawn mower but a push mower.

I tell my father that it built character and a strong work ethic on my little 5-foot frame.

As I got older and took jobs outside of the farm, these traits benefited me in many ways.

An example of this is when I was a lifeguard. Many may feel that tanning in the sun all summer long is glamorous but I can tell you from first hand that it can be a challenge. The muscles that I developed through hard physical labor protected me more than a bodyguard.

As I got older and left home, my physical activity decreased and my muscles begin to pay the price. So at 44 years old, I decided to join a gym. While I still mow my grass with a push mower, I wanted a year round experience. This experience this year has included my first bootcamp. While this bootcamp has been very enjoyable, I have come to realize that many of the exercises that I do seem to have roots in farming.

The first exercise that reminded me of gardening chores dealt with picking up a 40-pound bag of sand while in a squatting position. The bag was then brought up to the shoulder while I stood up and then thrown down. This was repeated in an alternating fashion up to the other shoulder. The whole exercise made me think about all the bags of soil I had picked up this spring and carried the same way to my container gardens.

The next few exercises utilized a weighted ball. This ball was incorporated into a modified pushup where ones hands were on the ball instead of the floor. It was also used to perform an advanced version of a plank (a pushup that is held). The weighted ball was used in many different forms to add resistant to setups. Oh, how I thought about using a watermelon, cantaloupe or pumpkin for these exercises.

Another exercise that I love to hate is one that I did as a child with hay bales. Instead of hay bales at the gym, we use steps. We jump on and then off of them. We then do scissor kicks and finally jump over them. What comes to mind when I do these exercises is what was old is new again.

The last group of exercises that reminds me of gardening utilizes a weighted pole. This pole is placed over the shoulders and is used to work the muscles on the sides of the waist. To increase the challenge, the twisting and bending is done while an individual is sitting on a large ball. How this reminds me of when I was a child riding my horse up from the fields. I never put a rein on him as long as I was on the farm and always just balanced myself on his back with the hoe over my shoulders. I twisted and bent as needed to stay on his back. Again, what is old is new.

So this year, when you are looking to improve your health consider gardening. It will be a two for one activity that provides you with healthy food and a way of strengthening your whole body.

Until we blog again, perk up your spirit, mind, body and soul with gardening. And as the saying goes, “It does a body good.”

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