When using a spade or shovel, change which hand is at the forefront of the implement, every so often – this will enable you to dig for longer, and we all want that, right? Plus you’ll exercise both sides of your body equally.
When using a trowel, change over to use your other hand intermittently – this is like dancing, helps keep your brain agile, as well as good exercise for hands and arms.
Sing, (or maybe hum if your neighbours are sensitive. One of my gardeny companions puts Vera Lynn CD on, when I begin to sing. What’s he telling me?) When you sing your brain is fully engaged and you cease to think, so you can’t focus on worrying things. Good for easing stress. Also inspiring of creative thoughts, as after you stop singing, you’ll probably find all manner of interesting ideas, thoughts and solutions spring to mind. I keep a small notebook for these when gardening. I now need many little bookshelves for these. (I promise Emmsie, I WILL put them onto the computer! Soon!)
Gaze at the horizon. Find a point, maybe a tree on top of a very distant mountain, or a palm tree far off into the distance and focus hard on that, until it comes into focus, maybe about 30 seconds. Then very quickly move your focus so your eyes are looking at something very close. Perhaps a lover’s Favorite Freckle on your arm? Or, if you are unblemished, maybe a tiny flower very close to you. Focus intently for 30 secs. Again swiftly move your focus to the far-off tree. Repeat this whole process 6-8 times. If you get into a habit of doing this when in the garden, it’s great for strengthening eye muscles, and especially good if you spend lots of your working life on the computer, or maybe reading fascinating and cute gardeny blogs (such as Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, Visionary Gleam and Helen Babbs, current Favs of mine). If you also breathe a little more deeply and slowly it’s quite meditative and calming. Take deliberate breaks throughout the day, computery folk, editors and writers, to do this one. Or do at least every second day. This also frees up time you may spend at optometrists – now, what to do with that extra time?
Now, I suspect you’re thinking “She said every little part of me, so what about my pelvic floor?’ Yes indeed, for men too! And have no fear, this one won’t scare the neighbours nor the Companion Gardening Cat. This will definitely strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Here’s what you do. When standing still amongst your garden, or indeed anyone else’s garden, curl your toes downwards (Hmm, upwards would be interesting..please get back to me, with photos preferably, if you can curl your toes upwards). Hold this for about 6 seconds , then uncurl toes. Repeat curl-uncurl about half a dozen times. Hold for more time as you get used to it. Keep breathing – to do otherwise is risky and a strong pelvic floor will do no good at all, if you cease to breathe. You may choose to do this in the company of a consenting adult. Not that they’ll know. Unless you tell them.
Not only gardeners need strong lower stomach muscles. A physio I worked with told me this one, to help prevent back injuries and help to avoid developing hernias. Just prior to lifting, brace the lower stomach muscles, just below your waistline, hold for 5 seconds, and then lift the pot, potting mix, whatever. Remember, bend your legs as you lift, don’t bend from the waist. If you always do this bracing-thing, there’ll come a time you’ll brace these muscles automatically, as you even contemplate lifting. Very good for dancing Ceroc or Lestep, too, when participating in athletic lifts and dips!