You could turn gardening into a complete body workout, and at the same time make your environment more beautiful. Gardening involves a number of different kinds of exercises, including stretching, weightlifting, and a moderate cardiovascular workout.
To reap the maximum health benefits from your gardening use as little machinery as possible. Use manual clippers, trimmers and lawnmowers if possible. Try to stick to a regular garden exercise routine. Rather than saving up your outdoor work for one marathon weekend session, schedule at least 30-60 minutes of gardening two or three times per week if you can manage the time. If your away from home during the day working, early mornings (if you can get up) evenings and weekends are ideal gardening times.
What kind of workout do different activities offer?
If you are a beginner, start with weeding, followed up by planting and watering seeds.
- Raking and carrying leaves contributes to both endurance and strengthening activities.
- Stretches and contortions in the garden can help increase and maintain your flexibility.
- Pruning, heavy digging, mowing the lawn or pushing a loaded wheelbarrow help in muscle building.
- You get some amount of exercise even out of carrying plants or a bag of potting soil from the store to your car and then out into the garden.
Gardening vs. Calorie burned
Around 300-600 calories per hour can potentially be burnt up while gardening. It depends on your intensity and the type of gardening exercises you do.
The list given below displays the number of calories burnt by a person weighing 170 pounds, in a 30 minute activity. You can get still more calories burned if you weigh more!
|Gardening activities||Calories burned|
|shoveling heavy snow||364|
|mowing the lawn with a push mower||243|
|gardening with heavy power tools||243|
|digging, spading, tilling||202|
Things to remember:
- Warm up and stretch the muscles for 15 minutes before beginning a garden chore. You will find that you can garden longer and better if you stretch.
- When raking, hoeing and weeding, keep the back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. Avoid reaching with a garden tool; keep it close to your body. If you reach the point where the back is no longer straight, move and stand closer to the work area.
- Turn your feet and entire body rather than twisting or turning your back.
- Lift objects by bending at the knees, not at the waist.
- Make your tools work for you. Clean, sharp tools in proper working order are easier to use.
- Pace yourself and take regular breaks. This can be easily done by setting a timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, stop, rest and drink some water.
- Many gardening chores involve kneeling. Constant up and down movement puts stress on the knees. Foam kneeling pads, at least an inch thick, provide some protection.
- When muscles feel sore or tired, stop and take a rest. Vary the gardening activity, switching to a different chore every 15 minutes. Switch to a different location, a different activity or just relax.
- Alternate which side of the body you use. Pull with your right hand, then with your left..
By watching your garden grow, especially if you started from small seeds and bare earth, you will begin to develop confidence in your abilities. On top of this, you will start to feel better about yourself as your whole body becomes toned and the extra weight drops away.
Note: Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.