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How About A Work Out In The Garden?

Beautiful blossoms aren't the only reward you get from gardening. It's also a good workout.

"Working in your garden is a great way to exercise. Whether pulling weeds or spreading mulch, you are using major muscles all over your body and you're sure to break a sweat," Kara Smith, special programs coordinator for the Loyola University Health System's Center for Fitness, said in a news release.

She offered the following gardening exercise and safety tips:

* Establish a regular gardening routine that includes 30 to 60 minutes of yard work two to three times a week.

* Take a brisk walk around the yard to warm up your body before you start gardening.

* If raking is required, make sure to alternate your movement, using both sides of your body to ensure they get an equal amount of work.

* Also switch hands often when digging, using both arms. This helps prevent blisters, repetitive motion injuries and muscle imbalances.

* Take a break to drink some water.

* Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a wide-brimmed hat.

* When lifting heavy items, bend at the knees and keep your back straight.

* Invest in a kneeling cushion to support and protect your knees.

* Wear gloves to avoid getting blisters on your hands.

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