Gardening is a fun and fulfilling hobby — but is it a good workout? Actually, it is! But that mostly has to do with which gardening task you are doing and for how long.
According to a study at the University of Virginia, gardening counts as moderate to strenuous exercise, like walking or bicycling. But you have to stay at it for at least 30 minutes to see any benefit.
While you’re working in the garden, you are using all major muscle groups — from pushing a lawn mower, planting, mulching (adding a layer of either inorganic or organic material for weed control and/or water retention), digging holes for trees, or turning over land to prepare for your garden. These are all strenuous and get your garden and your body in shape.
Gardening not only helps your body, it can also help your mind. Approach gardening as a hobby instead of a chore, feel the closeness of nature and be mindful of the moment. This will help you focus on the joy of the work instead of the work itself.
Experts say it’s best to leave your phone inside so that calls, texts and e-mails can’t take away from your experience. Still, seniors and people with disabilities may want to keep a phone nearby in case of injury. A good compromise is to switch your phone to silent and place it within easy reach of your workspace; that way, it’s handy if you need it but out of sight and mind while you work.
A garden can also help you connect with your neighbors and critters, such as ladybugs, butterflies, bees and birds. Enjoy the outreach and watch your cares fly away.
Losing Weight While Gardening
If dropping pounds is your goal, you’ll need to burn more calories than you take in:
- Digging holes – Men burn 197 calories and women burn 150 calories per hour
- Planting – Men burn 177 calories and women burn 135 calories per hour
- Weeding – Men burn 157 calories and women burn 156 calories per hour
Building Your Overall Fitness
Here are a few more ways to boost the burn in your garden:
- Sweep the walk: Sweeping can burn up to 200 calories per hour. Go fast and get that heart rate up!
- Rake the yard: After trimming the bushes or mowing the lawn, use a rake instead of a leaf blower or mulching mower. This can burn up to 300 calories in an hour!
- Trim or prune your trees: Sawing away those dead or unwanted limbs can work up a sweat, but do be careful on those ladders.
- Dig holes: You will work your back, arms, shoulders, core and legs.
- Hoe a row: Sure, using a tiller might be easier, but a good old-fashioned hoe will make sure your body sees more benefit.
- Squat while you weed: Sitting or kneeling might be more comfortable, but using those thighs — and holding the position until it burns — will give your legs a great workout. (Not recommended for those with existing knee problems.)
- Build a garden box or shed: Carpentry is hard work and a great way to build muscle.
- Use a push-mower: Riding mowers are fun, but pushing really gives you a workout.
- Haul away debris: Hauling a wheelbarrow works your core, forearms, arms, shoulders, and back.
Be Careful When Gardening
Gardening is still an outdoor job, so you need to take precautions while creating your masterpiece. Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control.
Dress to protect:
- Use safety goggles and earplugs when working with power tools.
- Wear gardening gloves to protect your skin.
- Use insect repellant that contains DEET to guard against mosquito-borne illness, including Zika.
- Wear sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) to protect against skin cancer.
Beat the heat:
- If you live somewhere warm, know your limits in the heat. Note that young children and those older than 65 are at higher risk of heat illness.
- Drink lots of fluids. (Think water and sports drinks, skip the soda and other sugary beverages.)
- Take frequent breaks, either indoors or in shady areas.
- Pay attention to signs of heat-related illness, including extremely high body temperature, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion or unconsciousness.
- Eat healthy foods to help keep you energized.
Soon your garden will be amazing and your body will reap the benefits — so get digging!
About The Guest Author:
Maria contacted FrostyGarden.com about an opportunity to write a guest post with a health focus. We were happy to oblige the request. Maria has suffered from depression and anxiety for years. Her hobbies–gardening, quilting, sewing, and knitting–play a major role in maintaining her mental health.
If you are interested in writing a guest post for FrostyGarden.com, we welcome the opportunity to have guest collaborators. Please contact us for more details.