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Resolve to 'Agcercise'

Your farm may be the only gym you need to achieve your fitness goals.

Getting fit is one of the top New Year’s resolutions people make every year. Often, this means an expensive gym membership that ends up going unused after a couple of months. It’s hard enough to get motivated to go to the gym when it’s a few blocks away, but when you have to drive to town to work out, the chances are even greater that the resolution will fall by the wayside. That’s where a home gym comes in – or rather, a farm gym. Why just exercise when you can “agcercise” at home?

Sure, you can buy exercise equipment and set up a gym in your basement or a corner of the farm shop, but chances are, you already have everything you need to get a complete workout. Of course, before you begin any exercise routine, see your physician for approval and recommendations. 

Find Your Tools

Take some time to establish an on-farm fitness routine. Go for a walk around the farm (also great exercise) and look for opportunities to work out. Then write down a plan and get your family involved. Following are a few ideas.

Every farm has a few old tires lying around. Take a page from the football coach’s handbook and flip a tractor tire several times, or place smaller tires in a zigzag pattern on the ground and run down the line.

Get your shoulders into shape with old-fashioned pull-ups. Grab the top of the kids’ swing set or install a pipe across the top of a doorway in the barn or shop.

If you don’t already have a rope hanging from the hay mow, tie one from a rafter in the barn and climb it. Add a few knots to get yourself started. You can also use hanging ropes for suspended push-ups. Or, place two heavy ropes on the ground, grab the ends, lift them, and slam them down for a battle ropes workout.

Use any long-handle tool to tone your obliques or side muscles. Place the handle behind your head, rest it across your shoulders, and steady it with your hands. Twist to the left and right several times. Just make sure you don’t hit anything!

Grab a yoga mat or horse blanket, find a peaceful spot by the pond, on the porch, or even on top of a hay bale, and practice yoga, tai chi, or meditation. Never mind the curious looks you will no doubt get from the livestock.

Get Farmer Strong

While personal trainers offer all kinds of great advice, many of their workouts are actually inspired by agriculture. 

The farmer’s walk is a popular exercise in gyms, and the idea comes from farmers carrying buckets of water or feed. To do the farmer’s walk, pick up (carefully so you don’t hurt your back; wear a weight belt, if needed) something heavy in each hand. You can use dumbbells, of course, but buckets of feed or water work just as well and let you do some chores at the same time. Let the weights hang at your side and take small steps, moving as fast and as far as possible without losing control. Work on increasing your distance and the amount of weight you can carry. This exercise is popular in strongman competitions, where lifters will often carry up to 1½ times their body weight in each hand. 

Old-School Chore Workout

Nathan Eason of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension says doing chores the old-fashioned way every now and then can help replace some of the physical activity in farming that has been reduced by technology. 

Eason suggests walking to check property and livestock once in a while instead of always taking the four-wheeler. “You will be more in tune with the needs of your property, and you will burn calories and get fit,” he says. Likewise, use a shovel and wheelbarrow sometimes instead of automatically hopping on the tractor or skid steer to clean the barn. 

Keep track of the time you spend doing these chores and add them to your exercise tracker. Even though it’s part of your job, the exercise still counts!

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