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WORKING OUT Safety guidelines



Published: Sun, July 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Jeffrey Restuccio, author of "Fitness the Dynamic Gardening Way," explains strategies for getting a good, safe garden workout. His guidelines include how not to strain your back and how to avoid getting sore from repeating the same motion for hours. Additional recommendations include:

Plan three or more separate activities or motions (removing pests, planting, pruning, weeding, digging, etc.) for each gardening session, each one ranging from five minutes to an hour.

Switch your position and stance every five to 15 minutes. Crouch, then sit. Kneel on one leg, then on two legs, then stand and lunge.

Exaggerate your motions. Rake or hoe with wide, sweeping strokes, keeping movement smooth and steady. Just as you think of repetitions with weight lifting, use good form and work with a hoe or a shovel as if each exertion was a resistance-training repetition.

Breathe regularly.

When lifting a potted plant, concrete blocks, or anything else in the garden, keep your back straight. Bend from your knees and use your legs, not your back.

Bend your knees as you dig, letting your legs -- not your back or arms -- do most of the work. Alternate between a right-handed and left-handed stance.

When weeding, bend at the knees, never at the waist. Spread your legs and bend at the knees for hand weeding. Or set one knee down behind you, put your other leg in front of you, knee bent, foot on the ground. Weed for about 20 seconds, stand up and alternate legs.




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