If you are looking for ways to increase your daily amount of physical activity but aren’t the type of person who enjoys going to the gym or running 5K races, you should try your hand at gardening. On first glance, gardening may not seem like a way to get a workout, but when you consider all that goes into preparing a space, hauling soil and compost, and tending to plants each day, you will realize that gardening is a great way to increase your physical activity.
Use Multiple Muscles While Gardening
Gardening is a labor of love that naturally requires physical activity. Many of today’s fitness routines incorporate stretching, pushing, pulling, and lifting, and gardening requires all of these types of functional exercise. While people who go to a gym do various exercises to target various muscle groups, gardeners automatically work out several parts of their body. Each day that you work in your garden, you will get a moderate to intense workout that involves multiple muscles at once and will help to improve your fitness level overall, especially if you had been leading a sedentary lifestyle.
If you get even more involved in gardening to the point that you prepare a large area for your plants or build a greenhouse to continue gardening year-round, you will increase your physical activity even more. A solar greenhouse is one thing you should consider if you are serious about gardening during the off-season and leading a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Solar greenhouses use the power of the sun to grow produce and provide your plants with a warm environment throughout the year without requiring additional heating during cold weather.
Gardening is Akin to Bicycling or Walking
Researchers at the University of Virginia have determined that gardening yields the same physical health benefits as bicycling and walking if you are active for at least 30 minutes. In fact, gardening can be a moderate or strenuous form of exercise. While gardening, you work your legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back, and abdomen. You will use these muscles day after day, which will build strength and burn calories.
While you exert yourself in the garden, you are reaching to pull weeds, bending to tend to plants and harvest produce, and stretching to rake or reach tall plants. Throughout the season, you will lift and carry bags of soil, mulch, and compost; lift and carry baskets of produce; push heavy wheelbarrows; and shovel and hoe in the garden. All of these movements require physical activity and lead to improved bone and joint health. Best of all, these movements are relatively low-impact, so you will not put undue stress on your joints like people do when they jog or perform many other types of aerobic exercises.
Do All of the Work Yourself
While it may be tempting to hire a neighbor kid to handle the more laborious tasks for your garden, resist the urge. The more heavy lifting you do for your garden, the more your physical health will benefit. Researchers found that many gardening tasks are moderate- to high-intensity physical activity; those that are best include digging, raking, weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing, harvesting, watering, and mixing soils and other growing mediums.
The goal is to remain active for at least 30 minutes in your garden each day and put all of your effort into the tasks required to keep your garden growing. Some days will be more active than others, but doing all of the work yourself will help you increase your daily amount of physical activity and reap the health benefits of gardening.