The gardening season is in full swing! After such a long, cold winter, it feels great to be out in the garden and the yard. Knowing that gardening itself is a healthy activity, here are a few tips to keep the gardener healthy.

Using sunblock helps to screen the sun's harmful rays. I remember hours at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey. And hours, afterwards, of sunburned agony. Today, I apply  a sunblock with an SPF of 35 or more before I go out and then again during my time in the sun. Moisturizing lip balm is a must, too.

I try to plan my yard work so that I'm in the shade as much as possible. Trimming the hedge in the front of my house may take a little longer this way, but the task is more enjoyable. Mowing my lawn later in the day also puts me in the shade and the temperature has often gone down a few degrees, too.

Keeping hydrated may be one of the most important things to remember during time outdoors.  I have found that the combination of sun and prairie wind can really dehydrate me, making my time outdoors less than fun. I make sure that I take many water breaks during the day, without doing that "one more thing".

I've read many articles about gardeners who stretch and bend before going out to work in the yard. Landscapers across the country are also implementing this practice to prevent injuries among their employees. Knowing all that, I have to confess that the only pre-gardening exercise I do is to pour one more cup of coffee!