Gardening is a fun, rewarding hobby that gets you out into the fresh air as you move your body and connect with nature. These factors alone make it a great activity for your physical and mental health, but did you know that gardening can be a great workout too? Gardening can help you lose weight, build strength, and improve flexibility and balance.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the best ways to make your favorite pastime an effective form of exercise, the health benefits of gardening, and how you can turn it into a killer workout.
How Gardening Can Help You Lose Weight
Gardening offers similar benefits to other moderate low-impact exercises such as cycling or walking. While higher-intensity activities such as mowing the lawn, hauling mulch bags, or carrying heavy wheelbarrows are more obvious forms of exercise, there are plenty of other ways that gardening can help you lose weight.
On a warm, sunny day, most homeowners spend several hours outside tending to their gardens. That time might be spent weeding, pruning, mulching, digging, and planting. Believe it or not, moderate gardening activities burn an average of 300 calories per hour, while more intensive tasks such as hedge trimming can burn up to 400 calories per hour! That means you could be getting similar benefits that you’d be getting working out in a gym by doing things such as:
- Planting trees
- Raking the yard
- Laying mulch
- Planting seeds or small plants
- Clearing out brush
With so much work to be done during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, there are plenty of opportunities to get out into the garden to work up a sweat and get a great workout. However, it’s important to remember that as with any other physical activity doing it correctly is essential for safety and efficacy.
Gardening incorrectly can lead to muscle pain, soreness, and back or joint pain. The best way to reap all of the physical benefits that gardening has to offer and reduce your risk of injury is to use proper posture and techniques for each activity. Be sure to stay hydrated, use the correct body mechanics when lifting heavy objects to protect your back, use knee pads when kneeling, and stretch and take breaks often.
Turn Gardening Into a Workout
If you’re looking for an extra boost, there are plenty of ways to make your gardening more vigorous to help you get a better workout.
Focus on the Range of Motion
While it’s all too easy to go about your gardening tasks mindlessly, being more intentional with your movements will help you get more out of each activity. For example, when raking leaves or weeding, try to increase the range of motion you use to use more muscle groups and enhance the stretch. This will help build more flexibility while keeping your muscles and joints loose and strong.
Target Large Muscle Groups
Gardening is usually a full-body activity, which means it’s easy to use muscles throughout your body for a well-rounded workout. It’s best to engage large muscle groups, such as your quads, trapezius, and core, to help you burn more calories and prevent injuries or soreness the following day.
Keep Things Balanced
When you work out at the gym, you do the same amount of reps on each side to make sure everything is even. To really see results, try to keep the same mindset while you’re gardening. For example, dig the same amount of holes in the ground with your left hand as you did with your right hand. Think of each task in terms of reps and sets to make sure each side of your body is getting the same amount of exercise. This will help you achieve your fitness goals more effectively than if you always favor one side.
Health Benefits of Gardening
In addition to burning calories to aid in weight loss or building strength, there are plenty of other health benefits that come along with gardening.
Vitamin D deficiency is running rampant in the United States, so most of us would benefit from any excuse to get more sun exposure. Gardening is an excellent way to get outside and soak in all of that vitamin D while simultaneously getting in a great workout. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus which help strengthen your bones and improves your immune system.
Lower Blood Pressure
Regular exercise helps to lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure level, which can decrease your risk of serious health issues such as heart attack and stroke. This exercise paired with the relaxing and sometimes meditative nature of gardening can further assist by reducing your stress levels and improving your overall sense of well-being.
Many people have a hard time getting motivated to do aerobic workouts. The best way to get in some cardio is to make exercise fun! Gardening is an enjoyable way to work up a sweat without even realizing that you’re exercising. You’ll improve your cardiovascular health, build strength, and even improve your balance and flexibility.
Better Mental Health
It’s no secret that connecting with nature can do wonders for your mental health. Along with the vitamin D boost, spending time outdoors immersing yourself in nature by tending to plants and digging in the soil can have a positive impact on your mood. It helps you unplug from the digital world and focus on simple tasks, breathe in the fresh air, and take some much-needed “me time”.
Gardening is beneficial in so many ways. It improves your health, boosts your mood, teaches you invaluable skills, and can help you get a great workout several times a week. To achieve your fitness goals, it’s important to make exercise a habit that sticks. The best way to do that is to choose an activity that you genuinely enjoy, and use the right strategies and techniques to reap all of the benefits it has to offer. By shifting your mindset and adding more vigor to your gardening activities, you’ll find that you’re getting just as much out of your favorite hobby as you’d be getting by spending hours in the gym!