Gardening as Exercise

Gardening is a popular hobby for many people both young and old, but did you know that gardening can also be a great way to get exercise? A study over the course of seven years of 12,000 middle-aged men with a high risk of coronary heart disease showed that those who kept up moderate, leisure time physical activity for an average of around 50 minutes every day were healthier than those who did little or nothing. One of the top choices of those active men was gardening.

Rigorous Gardening

A lot of activities that are associated with gardening can really work out some of your muscle groups and burn significant calories. Some of these more rigorous gardening activities include:

  • Spading
  • Lifting
  • Tilling
  • Digging holes

These forms of gardening can actually improve muscle tone and strength, if done regularly. Even the less strenuous forms of garden upkeep—weeding, trimming and raking—can burn off about 300 calories an hour.

The Way You Garden Can Make a Difference

The key is to be purposeful in your work and movements. Make an effort to garden energetically, and try to work at a constant pace. You can use manual clippers instead of power equipment to burn more energy. Like with any type of exercise, it’s a good idea to warm up and stretch before you start. Because activities like gardening are not commonly associated as exercise, it’s easy to forget to prepare your body for the workout beforehand.

The Benefits of Physical Activity

If you do focus on gardening as an exercise regimen, keep in mind the following when it comes to physical activity:

  • Be active for at least 2½ hours a week
  • Focus on activities that raise your breathing and heart rate and that strengthen your muscles
  • If you’ve been inactive for a while, start out with just a few minutes of physical activity each day
  • Gradually build up time and intensity to allow your body to get used to the exercise
  • Vary your gardening activities to keep your interest and to broaden the range of benefits.

So get outside and start planting those bushes or flowers you’ve been wanting to all winter. Make that flower bed you think will really add a welcoming touch to your front yard. Or start that home vegetable garden you’ve always thought would be great to have. Because gardening can be enjoyable and good for your health.

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