"As someone who has had a back issue, I do try to follow my physical therapist's advice and be careful to kneel instead of stooping while gardening, and to lift with bent knees and a straight back," Hagen said. "One of the things I like most about gardening is that because you stretch and move in so many directions, it works all your muscle groups, releasing tension everywhere in your body."
Don't forget to include mental health in your landscape design. Add tranquil herb gardens, soothing fountains and small sitting areas for meditation, relaxing and cooling off.
"Any gardener can tell you that there is nothing like spending time outdoors gardening to refresh the soul," Hagen said. "Psychologically, I'm sure it provides the same benefits to gardeners that recent research says recess provides to schoolchildren."
Good nutrition also is an important part of any fitness package, and few things taste better than food served fresh from the garden.
"If you can boost your health and avoid stresses and strains in the process, it becomes all the more satisfying," Guinness said.
For more about the healing power of gardening, see this University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service bulletin: http://hendry.ifas.ufl.edu/HCHortNews_Healing.htm
You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)netscape.net