Happy New Year! Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2017? If one of your resolutions is to exercise more, then you might be interested in one of my all time favorite gardening tools: a set of exercise videos. Yes–that’s what she said!
I know, I know–here you thought all along that gardening WAS exercise. And you were right. The truth is that gardening is so much exercise that it’s necessary to warm up first. I have found that my exercise videos are the perfect warm up for whatever activity the day holds for me, but they are especially necessary when I’m going to do any serious gardening.
There was a period after I had a sprained back years ago that I had to wear a soft back brace whenever I was doing a lot of walking, gardening, or other work. Then I found what turned out to be the best basic exercise regime for me: Wai Lana’s “Easy Series” of 3 VHS tapes. I began doing them 3-5 times a week, and I was thrilled that I no longer had to wear a thick layer of elastic when working and sweating outside on a hot summer day. I’ve adapted the routines to help deal with other issues that came along, and I added other exercises like bike riding or strength training when I wanted more. I’ve been able to stick with these videos for 15 years because they are easy to do–so easy that I hope I’ll still be doing them when I’m in my 80s if, Lord willing, I’m still around.
And speaking of the Lord, I would like to point out that I am NOT practicing yoga.* I am simply doing exercises, many of which are used in a wide variety of physical therapy and exercise programs. However, I’m well aware that Wai Lana IS teaching yoga, especially in the supplemental material before and after the exercise portions. Since this eastern philosophy is unbiblical, I ignore it–no meditation (or “mindfulness” as they now call it) for me, thank you. Now with DVDs, I don’t even have to fast forward through the “ancient yoga sound meditation” chants at the end of the exercises. I could not simply ignore the yoga philosophy if I went to an actual yoga class, so that is one more reason I prefer using these videos.
A couple months ago, one of my exercise tapes got chewed up in the VCR, so I knew it was time to get the DVD set. Thanks to a CyberWeek sale, I ended up getting another set, too, “Yoga for Everyone,” so now I have 6 DVDs to work with. New Year–new tool!
How to Find the Tool for You
Like other favorite garden tools, the exercises program that works best for me may not be the one for you. Here’s what I did to find mine–maybe these tips will help you!
- I checked out every exercise video in my library’s borrowing system that had words like “easy” or “toning” in the title or description. Use whatever key words fit your preferences. NOTE: If videos are not your style, check out classes at libraries, churches, park districts, and medical centers in your area as well as at fitness centers. If classes aren’t your style, look for sports or training programs you’d like to try–lifting weights, running, biking, swimming, tennis, racquetball–anything. If you need motivation, hire a personal trainer and/or sign up for a race or other sports competition.
- I tried all those videos out. If you’re taking any of the suggestions in the above note, you will be trying out other things. I had already tried several other kinds of exercise over the years. Now with little ones at home, I just wanted an easy video that didn’t require working with someone else’s schedule. Some videos I rejected quickly (Aerobics? Ugh. I wasn’t ready to stick with that!), and others, especially one in particular, I kept coming back to.
- I bought the video. Mine happened to be part of a 3-pack set, but if yours is not, you should look for similar ones to go with it. Believe me: it helps to have some variety. (Now I have even more variety with the second set–which, by the way, I tried out first by borrowing DVDs from the library.)
- Do it! The more I did mine, the better I felt. And that is truly what has kept me motivated to keep doing these videos several times every week. I don’t always feel like doing my exercises, but I often do them anyway because I know I’ll feel better after I do them.
- Move up a level when you’re ready, or adapt the program to meet your changing needs. Instead of moving up to a harder level, I added light weights to my routine. To do that properly, I got a video on doing yoga with weights from–you guessed it–the library. I watched and did that a few times in order to figure out how to incorporate weights into my own exercises. When I wanted to add aerobics, I took up bike riding–not running. (I don’t like running; it does not make me feel good. One of the keys to the success of my program is that the exercises make me feel good.) After I had frozen shoulder last year, I cut the weights out and eventually incorporated extra shoulder exercises into my routines.
The stretching and twisting exercises on my videos are the perfect preparation for a long day of physical activity in the garden. I’m thankful I found exercises that work well for me, and I hope you’re inspired to keep looking until you find ones that will help you enjoy your own garden more.
*NOTE: If you’re wondering why I stick to Wai Lana’s physical exercises and would never practice or promote yoga as a spiritual discipline, please read Albert Mohler’s article, “The Subtle Body–Should Christians Practice Yoga?” and his follow up comments.