Gardening: Exercise will keep you enjoying the soil

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

The good news for me this year I don’t have to add an exercise routine to my list of New Year’s resolutions.

Gardening can be hard on the body, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.

I began working out with a personal trainer almost a year ago when a bad fall two years prior left me with a wonky knee and a lack of mobility that made gardening tough and painful. I put off working out way too long, having been told a knee replacement was not the answer because my joint was not “cooked” – it did not hurt at night. Yes, I did the rehab program but when I finished, I left rest up to Mother Nature. Mistake! I am a woman of a certain age and the secret to success to old age is use it or loose it. Ruth Bader Ginsburg rocks!

 I started exercising regularly when what I love to do  – dig in the dirt, dance and travel became a challenge.

Regular exercise is not a six-week program, it’s a lifestyle. I babied my bod for a couple of years after the accident and things only got worse. So I bit the bullet and hooked up with a personal trainer.   I’m now relegated to a recumbent bike and strength training of my very weak core and leg muscles.  My rule of thumb is if it hurts my knee, it’s a no no.    

While my daughter will tell you, I am not a slave to fashion; I do keep up on what’s going on in the fashion and interior design world while I peddle away on a recumbent bike fitted with a TV at the gym where I work out.

I’m not standing on a bully pulpit.  I hate exercise as much as the next person. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on exercise tapes and funky machines and – to be honest, they remained in the boxes or ended up as coat trees.  

However, my regular workout rewards are:  I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m able to get into my car without pain and lifting my knee. And, I can now kneel for short periods of time in the garden and am looking forward to picking up a 40-pound bag of Organimax compost this spring. Also, I don’t have a great fear of falling should my knee give out.

The best news is I am looking forward to the up and coming gardening season and the frosting on the cake is a 2-week trip to Greece in May.  Exercise – it’s so worth it.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnewscom/homestyle.