For many people, gardening provides a way to relax and unwind after a long, stressful day or week which is great, however, why not turn your gardening into a workout? That way, you can get exercise AND keep your garden looking beautiful!
Gardening can rate up there with other moderate forms of exercise, like walking and bicycling. It all depends on what gardening task you are doing and for how long.
What Makes Gardening Good Exercise?
While enjoying yourself in the garden, you are also working all the major muscle groups: legs, glutes, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen. Gardening tasks that use these muscles build strength and burn calories but you can’t be sitting down to get your heart rate up.
Besides the exertion involved, gardening has other pluses that make it a good form of exercise and calorie burning. There can be a great deal of stretching involved with gardening, like reaching for weeds or tall branches, bending to plant and extending a rake. Lifting bags of mulch, pushing wheelbarrows and shoveling all provide resistance training, which leads to healthier bones and joints. Yet while doing all this, there is minimal jarring and stress on the body, unlike higher impact activities like running.
Start slowly, if you’re not used to the exertion. Lift properly, by using your legs. Vary your tasks and your movements and make use of the major muscle groups, to get the most benefit. Aches and pains aren’t necessarily a sign of a good workout. Your muscles may feel tired, but they shouldn’t hurt unless you’re using muscles you haven’t worked in a while or you’re using them wrong.
Gardening isn’t usually enough exercise to forsake your daily workouts, but it’s nice to know those tired muscles you feel after turning the compost are actually something good you did for your body and your health. As with any other form of exercise, check with your doctor first, if you’re not used to strenuous exercise. Make sure you incorporate a little stretching before and after gardening and take things slowly in extreme heat. We do a garden for the pleasure, after all. Getting in better shape can just be a bonus!
Getting a workout while gardening is easier said than done. After all, most of the gardening-related activities are pretty sedentary. But, if you’re smart, you can fit in a workout while you garden. Here are a few things you can do:
Sweep – Take a few moments to sweep the flagstones or the garden walkway. Sweeping can burn up to 200 calories per hour. Sweep hard and fast, and you’ll feel your heart pumping in no time!
Rake — Raking is even better exercise than sweeping, particularly after trimming your lawn. Make huge piles of grass or leaves, pick up the piles, and haul them away. You’ll burn up to 300 calories in an hour and leave your lawn looking spectacular.
Trim — Trimming or pruning trees can be hard work! Not only do you have to climb up into the trees to reach the branches, but the hacking or sawing can be good exercise. Spend a few minutes pruning dead branches, and you’ll get a great workout.
Dig -- Digging is amazing exercise! It works your back, arms, shoulders, core, and leg muscles, and it will have you breathing hard in no time. Whether you’re digging a new row for planting crops or double-digging to turn over soil, it’s a great way to get in shape.
Hoe — Hoeing is much harder and more tiring than it looks, especially if there is a lot of very rocky ground. Spend a few minutes turning over the topsoil to work up a sweat.
Squat while you weed — Most of us like to sit on a chair on kneel on the ground while we weed, but you can use your weeding time as a chance for a leg workout. Squat as you weed, and hold the position until your legs burn. Resist the urge to sit or kneel, and you’ll work your leg muscles beautifully.
Build something — Carpentry is hard work, and it’s a great way to get exercise while gardening. You can put up a new greenhouse, build a chicken coop, or put together a garden box.
Push the lawnmower — No more riding mower for you! Get out that old push mower, and push that thing around your lawn or yard. By the time you’re done mowing, you’ll be sweating profusely and breathing hard. Talk about a great workout!
Haul away debris — Load up that wheelbarrow and cart the debris far away. Hauling a wheelbarrow works your core, your forearms, your arms, your shoulders, and your back, giving you an excellent upper body workout as you leave your garden nice and clean.
The beauty of gardening is that you’re in the great outdoors, breathing fresh air and getting plenty of sunshine. With the advice above, you can benefit from a wonderful workout while working on your garden.