gardening exercises

With the first official day of summer fast approaching, you might be longing to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures. One of the best ways to do so is by gardening, an activity that can be good for the mind, body and soul.

Dan Hickey, the former editor of National Gardening magazine, claims that 45 minutes of gardening can burn as many calories as 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.

Even if you don’t have a garden in your apartment community, there are many ways to get involved in a local community garden. In honor of National Gardening Exercise Day on June 6, get out in your garden and burn off some calories. Here, we’ve created a guide to help you get started, complete with various activities and tasks associated with gardening and what kind of health benefits you’ll gain from doing them.

Before you get started, make sure to warm up your muscles for at least five minutes by jogging in place or doing jumping jacks. Then, stretch for up to 10 minutes to help relieve back strain and muscle soreness and avoid injury. Keep a towel and some water nearby to stay hydrated.

To really up the ante, exaggerate your movements to achieve a full range of motion and switch up your gardening stances to work different sets of muscles. For example, if you are raking with your left foot forward and your left hand on the lower handle, put your right foot forward and change your hand positions to work the other half of your body. The following garden activities are some of the biggest calorie burners:

  • If you’ve never created a compost pile, now is the time to do so. Turning compost works like lifting weights, burning up to 250 to 300 calories per half hour.
  • Trade out your riding mower for a push mower. You’ll work out your arms and core, as well as get an aerobic benefit that is similar to walking on a treadmill or on a track.
  • Digging and shoveling can burn as much as 250 to 350 calories per half-hour, as this activity engages nearly every muscle in your body, particularly the legs, stomach, arms, shoulders, neck and back.
  • Weeding on your hands and knees can give you a great core workout as well as strengthening your back, arms and shoulders. Weeding while squatting works the glutes.
  • Raking is very similar to using a rowing machine. Make sure to alternate hand positions and fully extend when raking to maximize the amount of muscles used.

If you’re intimidated about doing this much physical activity at one time, you can still derive health benefits from breaking up the exercise sessions into short bursts of at least 10 minutes of moderate activity throughout the day. Make sure to vary your activities so you don’t get bored, and alternate strenuous gardening duties with more moderate and enjoyable chores.

Once you’re finished, make sure to stretch again for up to 10 minutes to make the most of your garden workout.

Photo credit: Danylo Samiylenko



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