I do a lot of heavy yard work — building walls, weeding, digging, etc. I am usually exhausted afterwards. I’m sure all these activities are good exercise, but could you tell me what benefits I’m reaping?
It sounds like you’re getting some great strength workouts, and improving your home at the same time! The types of activities you mentioned are good for building upper-body and lower-body strength — the lifting and carrying builds your arms and upper back, pulling builds your lats, bending and straightening up strengthens your lower back, and squatting and lifting works your rear.
While your work can be a good way to build strength, you can maximize your benefits and avoid injury by paying attention to your form as you work. Here are a few things to remember:
If you need to lift a heavy object from the floor, squat down and straddle the load. Keep your chest lifted, knees bent, and hips centered. Lift the object using the strength of your arms, legs, and butt: Imagine pushing your legs down through the floor to utilize their full power.
When lifting weights from the floor, keep a natural arch in your back. Pull in your abs to support your spine, and never lock your knees.
When lifting a weight above your head, never let the weight move behind your head.
Remember to get in some aerobic activity to balance out all this (anaerobic) strength training.