I was in the doctor’s office the other day and scoped an article from USA Weekend about Sugar Ray Leonard who at 57, is still in pretty good shape and looks to keep it that way. Reading it I got the idea that, as a former boxer at the championship level, his is still a lifestyle that begets fitness and the maintenance of it. It’s ingrained; it’s who he is.
I remember thinking that it’s pretty much the same with gardening. More than a hobby or pastime, the activity promotes a lifestyle that demands we maintain our bodies, our minds and also the environment; the operative word in all instances being, maintain.
Physically, gardening uses all of the muscle groups at one time or another.
In my past piece, Getting into gardening shape, I listed some exercises to use, not only before the growing season but also year-round, to try and maintain some semblance of fitness. Mostly dealing with strength training, in it I stressed how it was necessary to be fit in order to take part in urban farming activities.
More recently, flexibility is receiving a lot of attention from me, probably because I read the Leonard article. He speaks to the necessity of remaining adequately pliant, especially in one’s later years. And he’s not alone in that assessment.
According to MindBodyGreen, a website geared towards good health and lifestyle improvements, flexibility is the first thing to go and (something that) continues to go. We are at our most flexible in childhood but once we become adults, we’re hardening.
The National Institute on Aging says that stretching should be an integral part of any exercise program with recommendations of doing 3 to 5 stretches in any one exercise set. And it’s probably not a bad idea to get in a few stretches before doing anything in the yard, too. The website WebMD lists the overall benefits of exercising to prevent osteoporosis and says creating and maintaining flexibility is a major part of that regimen.
The gardening lifestyle is one that moves through a wide range of ages but young or old, it’s a routine that makes you want to be a fitter, healthier person. It’s who we are; it’s in our blood. One can’t help but think that it’s never too late to get into shape. Just don’t consider fitness, regardless of whether you garden or not, without first thinking hard about flexibility.
And if you don’t believe me, just try weeding without having a wee bit of it. You’ll see what I mean.
Note: Before starting any exercise program or hobby or activity that involves physical activity, please check with your doctor to make sure you’re able.
7 Steps to Flexibility (with photos)
Your Everyday Guide from the National institute of Aging - Flexibility
Fitness magazine – Yoga Poses for Beginners
MindBodyGreen (website) – Yoga Poses for Beginners
Source: MindBodyGreen (website), Why Flexibility is Important to Your Health, Julie Wilcox, April 18, 2012.