Make Gardening a Pleasure -- Not a Pain

Most gardeners are eager for the first signs of planting season. Keep in mind that gardening is an exercise that can be stressful to the body. It’s a good idea to start in the spring with lighter tasks, such as weeding, trimming, and raking. Work up to heavy spading, lifting, and tilling.

  • Warm up before exercising - Use the same aerobic warm-ups before gardening recommended before running or exercising at the gym. Stretch for five to ten minutes before any gardening activity. Stretching relieves back strain and muscle soreness and helps avoid injuries. 
  • Vary your activities - Alternate between tasks that require different movements every fifteen to twenty minutes. For instance, alternate mowing with raking; weeding with pruning; and digging with raking. Give your body a break. If you are weeding, stand up and stretch your legs every ten minutes. When shoveling, bend your knees and step forward as you raise or lower the shovel. Use your legs, not your back, for heavy garden tasks. Change positions frequently. Take a break and stretch tired muscles. 
  • Set time limits - In gardening, one task leads to another and another; and that ten minutes we expect to be in the garden becomes two hours. Avoid the temptation to do "just one more thing". Not only does this lead to over-exertion, it often results in working without proper safety equipment or using appropriate tools. 
  • Stop frequently for water or sports drinks - Avoid sugary soft drinks when working in the heat of summer. Choose cool (not cold) water or sports drinks that replace fluids lost through perspiration. 
  • Cool down after gardening - Cool down after working outdoors and before going into an air-conditioned house. Slow down, pick flowers or vegetables or simply sit quietly for a short time before going inside. A hot shower will help minimize muscle soreness.

Return to the Safety Resource Center