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By Kym Burke

Last Updated: 3/31/24

Warm weather is on the horizon!  If you’re like many of us in Central PA, you are excited to get outdoors again. However, after a season of relative rest from the physicality of gardening/yardwork and golf, the sudden transition can lead to aches, soreness, or even injury. Knowing how to help your body adjust to these physical demands can ensure your warm-weather activities remain consistent with your mission to be Healthy and Happy. 

This article will specifically focus on the physical stresses we often encounter while gardening or doing yardwork and ways to manage them.


Although outdoor work involves occasional heavy lifting, most of what we do is considered low-load, long-duration movement. Primarily, it consists of lifting, carrying, lowering, bending, and reaching – movement patterns you’ve most-likely practiced in the gym Therefore, your gym-based training program that already emphasizes proper mechanics of lifting, carrying, lowering, bending, and reaching will serve youwell.

One central movement to master is the hip hinge. Hinging at the hips rather than bending through the trunk ensures you maintain a neutral spine position. The traditional bent leg deadlift and forward reaching lunge are ideal exercises that train you to hinge at your hips while raising and lowering your center of mass safely. Similarly, torso rotation exercises teach you to rotate your trunk as one unit, thus avoiding unnecessary rotational stress on the spine and knees.


It’s no secret that having a strong, functional core is crucial for gardening and yardwork. Fortunately, big range of motion exercises, performed in neutral posture will strengthen your core for its anticipated demands. Also, it never hurts to perform planking exercises as it can improve spinal health. Remember: train your core specifically for its anticipated demands. It will do us little good to lie on our backs and do crunches to strengthen our core for gardening!


Plan on “resetting” your body while you work to help you stay comfortable and injury-free. If you’ve got a full day of outdoor work ahead, be sure to schedule periodic “extension” breaks. 

Check out the two extension exercises below that will help reset your body.

Standing Extension

Position your body with feet approximately shoulder width apart, spine in a neutral position, shoulders back and down. Rest hands on the lower back just above the glutes. Slowly begin raising chin and chest to the ceiling while subtly squeezing the glutes. Press the hips forward until a gentle stretch is felt either on the front of the hips. Be certain not to force the spine too aggressively into the extended position. Hold position for approximately one second before slowly returning to the start position. Repeat 8-10 times.

Prone Press Up

Begin by lying face down with your hands positioned just outside your shoulders. Gently press with your arms in order to first raise your head, then your chest, off the floor. Continue slowly pressing your spine into an extended position. Again, do not force the spine too aggressively into the extended position. Once you have achieved your full extension, hold for approximately one second then slowly return to the start position. Repeat 8-10 times.

At One on One, we feel strongly that you should always train with purpose. Performing specific exercises that prepare you for the physical demands placed on the body while gardening or caring for your yard will help you feel more successful during, and significantly better afterwards! This week, talk with your trainer about incorporating some of the exercises mentioned above into your program, and get the most out of your time outdoors!