Whether you have an urban balcony or spacious lawn, gardening offers no shortage of opportunities for physical and mental boosts. It’s the secret to a healthier lifestyle.
It requires endurance, strength and flexibility and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it actually qualifies as exercise working similar muscles to those used in yoga. In fact, a daily dose of weeding, pruning and digging for just 30-45 minutes a day can burn up to 300 calories as well as boost our confidence.
Of course, the intensity of our workout as well as the gardening tools, methods, conditions and plot size we use, would make the difference.
If you’ve been inactive for months, it’s best to start slow and take every opportunity to dig. Mowing is a good workout, too. You can burn up to 200 calories in half an hour just in this way, depending on if your machine is powered by electricity or not. Planting and weeding can be also a great chance to tone up. According to Jeff Restuccio, the father of the Aerobic Gardening and author of several books including “Fitness: the Dynamic Gardening Way“, As long as you’re moving and breaking a sweat, you are burning calories. And if you are lifting heavy pots around, you’re essentially doing a strength workout and building those muscles in your arms.
To see some results, think of gardening in terms of repetitions and sets. He suggests making this hobby into a structured exercise routine, alternating light activities with heavier ones, then a light one, and so on. Rake for a while, then dig holes, then prune. One easy way to exercise different muscles during gardening is also to switch hands periodically when doing tasks like raking or shovelling. Another method is to change the activity you do every 15 to 30 minutes. An example could be pulling weeds for 15 minutes and then switching to dumping bags of mulch around your trees or bushes.
If you like the idea of keeping fit this way, spread your weekly workouts across at least three days, if possible, to reduce the chance of fatigue and injuries. Vary your movements, so you don’t overwork any one muscle group, and be thoughtful and purposeful in each task.
Whether you garden for peace of mind or bountiful produce, your yard has definitely more to give.
Gardening can make you fitter, more positive, more energised and more connected to your body – says Annie Burdick author of the new book Gardening For Mind, Body And Soul. – And at a time when the Earth desperately needs kindness and respect, gardening is one of the most loving things you can do.
So, let’s dive in and get our hands dirty. We don’t promise you will drop a size but you’ll definitely tone up your body and your spirit.