COMMENTARY by Jessica Saberman, MD, IU Health Physicians Family Medicine – Fishers
Warmer weather and more daylight hours are the perfect combination for exercising and getting work done outside. In fact, many people don’t realize that outdoor chores like yard work, pulling weeds and mowing the lawn are actually great forms of exercise. Activities such as weeding, planting flowers and mowing can burn between 200 and 400 calories per hour. Gardening provides fitness benefits because you’re continually getting up and down, stretching, bending and reaching.
Whether you’re venturing outside for that first springtime run/walk or getting the yard in shape, it’s important to take care of your body and avoid overdoing it. Taking the proper precautions will help prevent unnecessary aches, pains and other health issues so you can enjoy the summer. Here are some tips:
- Warm up and stretch before engaging in exercise or any physical activity (including yard work). As we age, our bodies become stiff, so this is especially important for adults.
- Build endurance gradually; resist “jumping in” to any activity or overexerting yourself. A good rule to remember: don’t increase your usual activity by more than 10 percent at a time.
- To keep your body fit, don’t limit exercise and physical activity to just the weekends. Be sure to exercise at least 30 minutes each day for maximum health benefit.
- When doing yard work or other outdoor chores, be kind to your back by bending forward carefully and at the knees.
- Use your leg and stomach muscles when lifting.
- Take frequent breaks, especially if you haven’t engaged in physical activity for a period of time.
- Be sure to stay well hydrated; drink water regularly while working outside.
- Protect your skin from sun damage by applying sun block of SPF 30 or higher at least 30 minutes prior to outside activity. Reapply every few hours. Wearing a hat with a wide brim that covers the neck, ears and forehead is also a good idea.
- Pay attention to your body. If you feel uncomfortable or experience a sharp pain or ache, stop what you’re doing and rest. If the pain or feeling persists, consult your doctor.
Jessica Saberman, MD, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Family Medicine, 9757 Westpoint Dr., Suite 100, Indianapolis, 46256. Dr. Saberman can be reached by calling the office at 317.944.0460.