People of all ages enjoy gardening and although a lot of work is required to keep your flowers and vegetables thriving, there are a lot of therapeutic benefits in being outside every day and spending time working in your garden. Gardening does not place high impact stress on your body like other aerobic exercises. Instead of it consisting of one sustained activity such as jogging, biking, or swimming, gardening involves a variety of activities, some more strenuous than others. Gardening is found to be a good way for seniors to exercise as well. Seniors tend to be more sedentary and gardening gives them a reason to get out and become more active. Here are some more benefits of gardening as an exercise.
Lower risk of certain diseases
According to Garden Fitness, a person who performs garden work for 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week will lower their risk of diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. There are also mental health benefits from gardening, as it tends to take your mind off the stressors of the day. It is mentally relaxing, creative and satisfying.
Gardening can help you burn calories. According to Self Growth, you can actually burn from 120 to 300 calories for each 30 minutes of gardening activity you perform. The intensity of the activity, of course has to be considered, for example, you would burn fewer calories watering the garden than you would weeding it.
Exercising muscles groups
Gardening involves a good use of major muscles groups in your arms and legs and back. Reaching, bending, stretching, pulling, twisting, pushing and squatting are all movements you will encounter as you do gardening. These movements will strengthen your muscles and joints and improve your flexibility. For example, look at the repetitive flexion and extension motion of your arms when you use a rake, or the flexion and extension of your leg when you are using a shovel. When using an edger to clear out a large area of weeds, your arms will benefit from the side to side sweeping arm-swing motion. Pushing a lawn mower or a wheelbarrow is also a good workout for all muscle groups. Pruning helps with grip movements and hand strength and arm coordination. These are just a few examples of how gardening gets the whole body involved in exercise.
Outdoor gardening certainly gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine and this will give you more energy to do your gardening. Your body needs oxygen and of course as you place demands on your heart, lungs and muscles, more oxygen is required.
1-As with any other forms of exercise, you should pace yourself. Your body will let you know when it is tired. It’s a good idea to alternate a more strenuous exercise with one less strenuous.
2- Try to keep within a set timeframe for each day you do your gardening. Set realistic goals for yourself, especially if you have a large garden. Don’t try to do everything in one day.
3-Perform your yard work in the cool of the day to prevent overheating and stay well-hydrated by keeping water handy while you work. The days are long during peak gardening months, so choose early morning or late evening hours to do your work.
4- Remember to use good body mechanics for lifting and bending to avoid straining your back muscles. For all garden work, lifting heavy objects should be done with the long muscles of your legs, not with the small back muscles. When reaching to pick up an object, bend at the knees. No Limit Gardening also advises to avoid twisting your body when using a shovel. Also, alternate your stance when you are using a shovel so you do not over-tax one side of your body.
Some people may still not be convinced that gardening as a serious form of exercise but before you judge against it, give it a try and consider all the benefits that can be achieved from it.
Everyday Health: “Gardening is good exercise”
Self Growth: “Gardening is great exercise”
Diabetic Lifestyle: “Gardening for health and satisfaction”
Garden Fitness: “Gardening for Fitness”