The Great Garden Workout!
This year at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Coventry University have an exhibition in the Great Pavilion as part of the ‘Healthy gardens, healthy gardeners’ initiative. It is looking at how gardening can be an effective way of exercising. They featured an interactive exhibit with screens demonstrating which muscles are at work during different gardening tasks.
Why is gardening such good exercise?
It’s fun! Enjoying any form of exercise can make it more effective as you will generally continue for longer. Gardening really does use all of the major muscle groups; just think about how you ache after a long gardening session! Moving all of the muscles helps them to strengthen and to burn calories. Maybe gardening is even better for your body than typical exercise routines. You will put your body through all sorts of bending, stretching, reaching, and lifting while gardening – all exercises that are comparable to weight lifting, but without the stresses on the body when the body is exerted in the gym.
Will I lose weight?
The million-dollar question that we all want to know: will one exercise help me to lose weight in preference to another exercise? To lose weight, the body needs to burn more calories that it consumes. Iowa State University have conducted research on this and suggest the following:
- Digging Holes – Men: 197 calories, Women: 150 calories
- Planting – Men: 177 calories, Women: 135 calories
- Weeding – Men: 157 calories, Women: 156 calories
The National Institute for Health has listed gardening as a moderate exercise if carried out for 30-45mins. When you consider how enjoyable gardening is, this doesn’t seem too bad at all!
How else is gardening good for me?
There is research that suggests that gardening for around half an hour a day can contribute to:
- Strengthening joints
- Increasing flexibility
- Lowering the risk of diabetes
- Slowing the onset of osteoporosis
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Reducing cholesterol levels
- It is suggested that around 30 minutes of exercise every day is required to see health benefits. This can be broken down into small tasks. Think variety and you’ll be on your way.
- Don’t rush into hours of gardening if you are not used to it.
- Lift heavy items using your legs. Stop if anything hurts! Changing between tasks will work different muscle groups and provide you with the best workout.
It’s worth remembering that however long we spend in the garden, it probably isn’t going to be enough exercise to mean you can stop your usual exercise patterns. Gardening is a pleasurable activity; building muscle or losing weight are just bonuses!
Please take care when gardening. Don’t rush straight into the heavy work; build up to it. Make sure you are drinking enough water while gardening, especially in the heat of the summer. If you are not used to exercising and haven’t spent much time gardening, please check with your doctor first before starting a new exercise regime. GoTo4 Gardening cannot take any responsibility for accidents or injuries sustained from following any of the suggestions above.