National Gardening Exercise Day: Become The Dandelion Terminator

Get your shovels, gloves, and family members: June 6 is National Gardening Exercise day, even though gardening is always exercise. No, you don’t see big Arnold Schwarzenegger types praising the pain and gain of “GAAAHDENING” but that’s because gardening is an endurance workout – it’ll make you slim and mobile, with defined muscles – and that nice Walking Stack of Boulders look comes from strength workouts.

The body to which gardening can contribute is more like the Michael Phelps build: the swimmer’s body. Of course, you don’t get there by slacking; gardening is hard work. Most of the work is done in the summer, and June 6th is nearing the hotter part of the year and you’re on your feet, hands and knees for hours to pull, dig, and plant. But I know at least four arthritic grandmothers who love gardening, so the least you can do is give it a try.


           Before you start slathering yourself with SPF 3000, you’re going to need to stretch; your ego will need intense therapy if a dandelion pulls your hammy. As far as your body is concerned, gardening is a bunch of pulling, scooping, and dragging, so prepare accordingly with this useful graphic from Stretching, a book by Bob and Jean Anderson:

Gardening Stretches II.gif

The idea of these stretches is to limber up your legs, back, and arms because these take most of the force in gardening. They’re also very easy areas to pull. In doing these stretches, be careful not to bend over your lower back, as this risks injury and as we all know, for some reason, backs are about as sturdy as cheap chopsticks.

When you’re feeling good and flexible, get out there and start gardening! If you don’t have one of your own, you can probably call someone up and help with theirs. Much like the guys who spot for each other at the benchpress, you’ll be strengthening your relationships through exercise – and even getting a tan while you’re at it. But because no self-respecting jock fails to mention every single muscle he’s using in a workout, here’s a list of tasks and the muscles they work:

1)      Weeding: this pulling motion will work your triceps, shoulders, latissimus dorsi, and several areas of your legs. In some areas, weeding is a relatively easy task, but in states like Alabama or Georgia, the thick roots and tough soil mean you’re going to have to use your legs for some extra power.

2)      Digging: more of a scooping motion, this task will work biceps, triceps, latissimus dorsi, and shoulders. Make sure to position yourself in a way that doesn’t compromise your back.

3)      Raking: the power of a dragging motion comes from the legs, so this task can work your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, back, and abs – a good all-around workout

With all of these muscles you’ll be working, you’re going to be tired before the day is done…but that’s the sign of a good workout. Appreciate that fatigue with a tall glass of water and a stroll over the corpses of all of the weeds you’ve terminated, as well as the budding young lives you’ve placed in nurturing soil.

Of course, if you prefer your workouts in worm-free, air-conditioned environments, you can always head for the gym. And, if you need help finding a local landscaper who can really go the distance, look no further than Talklocal. TalkLocal matches you to the right local pros and connects you by phone to a live person in real time. Visit or use our free app available on iPhone and Android.

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