Gardening: Get digging to boost your fitness

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If you can’t stand the gym and the idea of jogging leaves you at a standstill, the garden can be a haven for toning up and trimming away those excess pounds.

Perhaps your New Year’s resolution to lose weight and take up exercise is proving hard to sustain, but a few hours a week in the garden will not only give you a head start to spring but may help as part of a fitness programme too.

Raking leaves, digging, weeding and moving shrubs can all be done at this time of year and will help you tone up.

Raking and forking helps strengthen arms and shoulders and tones the abdominal muscles, while digging and bending (from the knees, keeping the back straight) to move or lift plants or pots can help tone thighs and buttocks.

Sitting down is possibly the worst position for the human body, adversely affecting posture and the digestive system.

So weeding beds and borders gives the legs, hips and buttocks a good workout if you squat while you weed. Heavier work, such as clearing brush and stacking wood, can give you a workout equivalent to a light aerobics class.

Get down as low as you can so that your bottom is as close to your heels as it can be. You can garden from that position rather than getting down on your knees. When you stand up you will be using your joints to their maximum range of movements.

From a squat position you can weed or plant, and each time you move along a border you stand up and then squat again.

With deep squats, you use the biggest muscles in your body – leg, thigh and hip muscles – and will aid lymphatic drainage, pumping out toxins as you completely rely on muscular movement for this.

In between other tasks, take time to find a high branch of a tree and just hang from it to take your body weight.

It’s great for posture and is good for shoulder strength.

Taking all this on board, there is no need to dread those Januray garden tasks – or indeed the gym.