Resolutions prepare gardeners for new year

posted Dec. 26, 2017 7:13 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Bev Carney | Gardening Columnist

I resolve! It’s that time of the year when we look over the past year and promise ourselves to make a few changes in the upcoming months. While there are many types of resolutions, gardeners can benefit from resolutions more specific to their gardening passion.

The garden is its very own workout, making our bodies stronger and healthier, but as winter approaches the demand for outdoor work decreases and it is easy to settle inside for the winter, pursuing sedentary tasks like reading, knitting and sewing. As lovely as it may be to snuggle down inside all winter long, when spring finally arrives, what kind of physical shape will we be in for gardening? It’s time to resolve to get and to stay fit!

Gardening can be physically demanding. We carry baskets of produce, haul bags of soil, drag heavy hoses and tote full watering cans. We dig, we rake, we weed and we push heavy wheelbarrows. The American Association of Retired Persons suggests several exercises specifically noted to strengthen those muscles that gardeners use most. For safer and easier work in the garden, do a stretch called the bird dog to strengthen the abs and back, https://​​ybv4coto. Raking demands a lot from our shoulders and arms. Try countertop pushups. They’re quick and easy and handy to do while waiting for the coffee to brew, ​​watch?v=w2hr5OjmETA.

Bending and squatting can be tough on our hips, legs and backs but we can become stronger and face less risk of springtime injuries by strengthening our lower body. A bodyweight squat is simple, can be done anywhere and requires no extra equipment. Plus, there’s no better lower body exercise. See the instructions for a bodyweight squat at https://​​ych6yec9.

Not only does winter soften our muscles, after we turn 30, our bodies inevitably start to lose muscle mass. A regular weight lifting program can slow down that loss. The exercises listed above can be used in conjunction with hand weights, exercise bands, or your own body weight to keep those muscles strong. This 15-minute workout will do wonders for your muscles, whether you do the entire routine or just half of it,​watch?v=U0bhE67HuDY.

Flexibility is key to good balance. A daily routine of several simple stretches will make a huge difference in how your body responds. Check out these seven movements at Better Homes and Gardens, https://​​y82x6o4r.

Mental fitness is critical as well. Winter nights can be long, cold and dark and many folks are negatively affected by this lack of light. Getting in some time outside every day can make a big difference to your winter spirits. Exercise helps stimulate the brain so a quick daily walk outdoors does double duty for combating the winter blues. Trying something new can also keep up your spirits. Start your own seedlings indoors or plant a flat of mini-greens, ready to harvest in just a couple of weeks. Resolve to eat more leafy vegetables and fresh herbs and perhaps start a flat of each under lights.

Resolutions don’t all have to be about self-improvement. I like to promise myself to have more fun in the upcoming year. Have you always wanted a pond or a waterfall? Resolve to get that done this year. Likewise, establishing a perennial bed or an herb garden is a satisfying goal that is easy to accomplish. Do you have a passion for roses? For a topiary garden? Now is the time to start learning all about these fun projects so you will be ready to get them underway come spring.

Beverly Carney can be reached at

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