"What do you do for exercise?" a doctor asked me at a recent visit.
"Extreme gardening," I said.
You might laugh, Doctor, but it's true.
In spring I work on muscle building, using such exercise equipment known as the 'shovel' and the 'wheelbarrow'. When an extreme gardener spends two months moving compost from the town dump to her five new and very large raised beds, believe me, the gardener finds arm, leg, and back muscles she never knew she had.
And to make sure that I hit all muscle groups possible, I alternate 'soil-moving' with such exercise moves as 'swinging the pick-axe', 'edging the garden beds' (which is a surprising calf exercise for those of you who have never used a half-moon edger), and, of course, the popular 'rock-excavating' (a local, New England whole body exercise that also works on character-building by way of keeping one's temper).
Once summer hits, I move to focusing more on legs, abs, and triceps. Days spent pulling hundreds of weeds means many lunges, squats, and, well, whatever the technical name is for 'bending over'. Extra focus is given to stamina and speed.
Now that it is late summer, I am working on flexibility and balance. The garden has turned into a jungle-like training ground, and in order to harvest, prune, weed, or do pretty much anything, one must stretch and twist one's limbs into unnatural, pretzel like poses - without falling over into said jungle.
You know those people in spy movies that bend and flip over red laser beams so as not to set of any alarms? Those people have nothing on a gardener that has to somehow harvest her cucumbers on the far side of the garden bed without breaking any of the multiple plant stems criss-crossing her path.
You might worry, Doctor, about what exercise I might do during winter, and rightly so. But don't worry too much - around here, 'extreme gardening' has a tendency to give way to another popular local exercise known as 'extreme snow-removal'.
Let's just say those shoveling muscles come in real handy.