Living in Florida, I knew I had to start my 2 mile walk just as the sun was coming up. If I waited a moment later, the heat would steal my energy. I had tried taking late evening walks but by then, it was really hard because I was settled in with watching television or submerged in my crossword puzzle. Yes, I know what you are probably thinking, “she is just plain lazy, why doesn’t she just do it?”

The truth is, I am often lazy, but I was also bored. Maybe if I felt I didn’t HAVE to walk or HAVE to go to the gym or whatever else was on my have-to list, I wouldn’t dread or put off doing it. Every day I would talk myself into doing it; then I would slack off. Then one day I would say to myself, “you have to do this” and I was on again. It was a never- ending cycle of “will” verses boredom.

One day my husband, Jim mentioned that our back yard would be so much more attractive without those bushes in front on the fence. (I don’t know what kind of plant it was but the previous owner obviously thought that the plants were pretty.) When Jim mentioned this, I felt guilty. When our four daughters were growing up, I was busy sewing, cooking, taking them to activities and keeping up the house along with a part time job. So I never had time to acquire an interest in the outdoors. Now, being a free- lance writer and my own boss, I knew there was no excuse for my not helping in the yard.

I donned by old clothes, put my gloves on and ventured into a new world. At first, I started just cutting down the huge bushes. After a couple of sessions, that was done and now for the real thing. (I don’t think Jim thought I would even last one day and neither did I,) I got the hoe and shovel and had to dig about 8 inches for these gigantic roots. They are huge and funny-shaped. They look like bones of a giant. I wondered what the neighbor's thought, since they look like huge bones and I am always digging in the back yard?

The first yard session, I could only last about 30 minutes. The Florida heat combined with the fact that I wasn’t drinking much water just about did me in. I sat on the back porch, wiping my brow and realized this was going to be a definite challenge. Drenched with perspiration and dirty, as I made my way to the shower, I vowed to try again the next day.

Yep. You’re right. The next day I was really sore. Those muscles I used for digging and pulling were sore. I made my way outside, anyway. Those roots were not going to get the best of me. This time I dug and pulled for about 45 minutes. I was so tired; I had to leave the roots that I had already dug up on the ground for the time being. They were huge and very heavy but there was a slight twinge of satisfaction that some of the roots were up.

I began to notice my energy level was increasing. After working in the yard, I would shower, drink my water and be ready for housework, errands or better yet, my writing.

Jim told me to drink my water BEFORE I went out to work in the yard. That little piece of information helped me tremendously.

Today I am about 75% finished with my root job. Every session I have with “pulling up the roots” becomes more enjoyable. Strangely, I can’t wait to get out there each day for my challenge with the roots. It is kind of like finding Easter Eggs. I want to find one more huge root and pull it up. Consequently, every session I last longer. I have added weeding and pruning to my outdoor activities.

There is something about pulling up those stubborn, heavy roots with my hoe that makes me excited. I know that sounds silly, but it is true. Something about pulling those weeds from the ground puts me in tune with the universe. I have always snickered when I heard others say this about gardening, but I find it is true for me. Pruning and clipping – I just love….I almost go overboard. Jim will tell me that I don’t have to cut everything so short! And picking up the magnolia leaves each day on our patio brings pure joy.

Now, if I want to take our dog, Sunny Bear for a walk in the evening, it is pure joy. It is something I don’t HAVE to do. I already have done my exercise. And yes, I still do my weights, but I feel that all the pulling that comes with digging and hoeing does the job.

I taught aerobics and pool classes for three years. I did about 10-12 classes per week, but I can assure you, I feel that gardening is just as beneficial. I know you are supposed to do some kind of aerobic exercise at least twice a week, but I can tell that my heart is getting a work out and I am getting more muscle mass.

One day, I was surfing the net for links for my site, and I came across this article, which convinced me that I was right about gardening being beneficial for body and soul.
I found a calorie burner calculator Put your weight in, the amount of time, and kind of exercise and it will show how many calories you have used. According to this calculator, when I do my hardest yard work for 120 minutes, I use 726 calories! Yeah!

Read more good news about this on an article by Jeff Restuccio called, National Gardening Exercise Day, which was June 6th. It not only reinforces the fact that gardening can be an aerobic exercise, but has tips on stretching, cool downs and techniques on posture while gardening to produce the best results. I am so excited! Mr. Restuccio has also written a book, Fitness, the Dynamic Gardening Way. I can’t wait to read it.

Did I also mention that gardening is good for the mind and soul? I feel so much better. I found some back up for this emotional, feel-good phenomenon, as well. Did you know that gardening lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and muscle tension. In fact, according to this article, just looking at a picture of a garden reduces stresses, heartache and losses in our life. This article, Grow Better, Feel Better, Garden Longer is by Karen York. She is the author of Holistic Garden: Creating Spaces for Health and Healing. Draw your own conclusions when you read:

I realize I need to go out and pull up some more roots. My roots are calling me………Fran Larson ( )

Author's Bio: 

Has an AA Degree from St Petersburg College
Taught Nursery School, Children’s Choir,
Paraprofessional for First Grade

Co-Author of Character Keys to a Bright Future.
Writes poetry, short stories and articles.

Unlimited Minutes published by Taborri.Com
Zach and the Wishing Well by Just for See Zach’s story
Personal: Married, four daughters

Her web site is: (Good Character Press)