Do You Really Need a Training Program to Garden?

Many consider gardening as a peaceful, meditative activity and rarely consider that they may require a training program to prepare for the activity.

If you break gardening down into its most fundamental movements, you’re basically pulling, pushing, bending, squatting and lunging the entire time requiring muscular strength and endurance, core conditioning, mobility and flexibility.

It really is a weight-training workout minus the dumbbells. Not to mention, many get carried away on the first day of beautiful weather spending way too much time in their flowerbeds. This adds to the aches, pains and muscle stiffness the next day. Hate to break it to you – but it only gets worse as we get older when our tissues don’t seem to be quite as limber as in our younger years.

If you have been inactive all winter, your first few days of gardening can be very painful as you ease back into your hobby.  Although you may have no desire to run a marathon or enter a body building competition, you can certainly be in good enough shape to garden comfortably. The secret to success is getting your body ready for gardening safely.

Be proactive and stay active all winter

Walking, swimming, hiking, snowshoeing, fitness classes, indoor cardio machines – these are all great ways to maintain your health all year long and minimize any muscle and joint pains come spring.

Make aerobic exercise a part of your daily life

But you’ll have to commit to more than just aerobic exercise. You’ll want to try to mimic the bending and lifting associated with gardening as often as possible in your day-to-day life. You can keep these movements as part of your life by squatting to pick up children, performing household chores that require you to move and lift furniture, or even placing high-use items like pots & pans, laundry detergent etc. on lower shelves so you regularly have to bend to access them.

Incorporate a weight training program

A good weight training routine at home or at a gym incorporating activities like squats, lunges, assisted chinups, rows, push ups and presses is an excellent way to keep your muscles strong and adequately prepared once the spring gardening bug bites.

Warm up with a walk

Before each day of gardening begins, go for a walk around the block first just to get the blood flowing through your limbs. Then perform a couple easy, mild squats, forward and backward bends and twists to warm up your joints.

Limit Stress & Strain

While in the garden, you can also limit the stress and strain of staying in certain positions for extended periods of time by regularly rotating through two or three jobs that require different activities and postures. For example, alternate, in 10-15 minute intervals digging with pruning or weeding with edging and mowing. Remember to bend and lift using your legs instead of your back and always keep your abdominals contracted. Last, remember to take regular breaks – remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Finish your day sitting on a bench, performing a variety of easy, static stretches as you admire your beautiful masterpiece. Remember to breathe slow and deep and take in the positive energy of being outdoors.

Note: As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan


Join us for the Couve Clover Run (3, 7 & 10 Miles) March 22nd, 2020!

Join us for the 6th Annual Couve Clover Run and celebrate in your festive green while running or walking 3, 7 or 10 miles along an extremely fast and scenic course to support local charities! We will make you earn your post-event party but it will be off the charts hosted by Main Event and other downtown Vancouver Pubs & Breweries.




Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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