Gardening is a great workout for the whole body, which is excellent news if the thought of daily gym sessions and frequent pavement-pounding doesn’t appeal.
Depending on the nature of the activity and how it’s carried out, gardening as an exercise is rated at moderate to strenuous. Like most exercise-types, the benefits are most keenly felt if you do at least 30 minutes at a time, a few days each week. You can spread the half-hour across the day, with experts recommending each session lasts for a minimum of eight minutes.
The post-gardening muscle tiredness we’ve all felt just goes to show what a great workout maintaining your outdoor space can be! Arms, legs, back, shoulders, neck, buttocks, stomach and core are all put to use when gardening. Regular gardening also helps to improve muscle tone.
With all the bending, stretching and twisting involved, gardening can have a yoga-like effect on the body. These movements work on your balance and flexibility; and all the lifting and carrying required will have a marked impact on the strength and robustness of your bones and joints. Simply being outside will also ensure you get a good dose of essential Vitamin D.
The strenuousness of gardening works to get the heart pumping, which in turn improves circulation and contributes hugely to your stamina and endurance-levels. If you feel even slightly out of breath, you know your cardiovascular system is getting a good workout.
Getting some fresh, oxygen-rich air into the lungs works wonders for the body, boosting vitality and optimising respiratory efficiency.
A 30-minute gardening session typically burns between 150 and 200 calories. Mowing the lawn and digging-over flowerbeds and veg plots are particularly good in terms of exercise – just half-an-hour spent mowing can cause men to burn well over 200 calories. Of course, that’s with a walk-behind machine, not a ride-on!
Incontrovertible proof of gardening’s effectiveness in terms of achieving all-round fitness. Just one note of caution though – try not to overdo it. Make sure you lift and bend properly; and if you feel any pain that goes beyond slightly achy muscles, you should reassure yourself by seeking advice from a medical professional.