For mind and body health, give gardening a go. Fitness is an important part of our weekly routine and I’m going to show you how your own garden can give you all the tools you need for an all-round health high.
The garden is not just a place for pretty plants, it’s also a way you can stay active and it might surprise you just how good a workout you can get! Gardening works all the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulder, neck, back and core and it does this simply by offering enjoyable activities that make you move.
Regular gardening can do wonders for your physical shape.
A study in 2013 found that gardeners had significantly lower BMIs (Body Mass Index) than their neighbours who were not gardening. Just three hours of gardening can compare to around an hour of intensive workout in the gym.
What’s more, for littlies, it’s engaging in both gross and fine motor development. The difference between gardening and so many activities is that gardening covers it all; it develops our fine motor skills during small, precise and intricate tasks—this could be when tying in honeysuckle or jasmine climbers, when sowing small seeds, or deadheading flowers.
In contrast, our gross motor skills are also engaged when maintaining the garden—think of large, considerable and powerful movements like when you’re digging soil, lifting containers or mowing the lawn.
If anyone wants to incorporate gardening into their routine to stay in shape, here’s how it can count:
Planting – This can burn 177 calories in men and 135 calories in women every hour.
Weeding – Now, this can really get your blood flowing. This one will work your body in a similar way to a cross-trainer machine. Focusing on the shoulder and arm muscles especially, but also giving your thighs and bottom a good workout too from all of the up and down movement and squatting. Just half an hour weeding can burn up to 150 calories.
Mowing – Trade the treadmill for a lawnmower and get yourself moving. If you have a manual push mower then you will get a real workout for your upper body too, but for most of us with petrol or electric-powered devices, it will mainly focus on legs and buttocks.
Raking – Just raking leaves for a quarter of an hour a week works up enough of a sweat to burn 63 calories—that’s 3,276 a year!
Digging -This can burn 197 calories in men and 150 calories in women per hour, so it all depends how long and how intensively you’re working in the garden. Swap the weight bench for a shovel and get lifting. It will activate almost every part of your body, but with more force than raking, making it more similar to using the weight machines in the gym.
Remember to be careful not to injure yourself. Good stretching is really necessary. Keep that in mind and you’ll be in good shape. And, like the gym, have a change of activity frequently, breaking up your activities every 15 minutes or so if you can.
The great thing is that all this physical activity aids us mentally too. During exercise, we experience endorphins which release “happy hormones”—known to boost mental wellbeing.
Gardening is especially uplifting because it offers that exercise high.
Studies have shown that humans are instinctively more at ease and relaxed within a natural environment because of our natural instinct to affiliate with nature.
These natural spaces enable us to rest our minds and allow our attention to wander freely and this helps relieve mental fatigue.
And it’s not just outside where we can reap these benefits. Active interaction with indoor plants (like touching and smelling) can reduce physiological and psychological stress, too. Because of our evolution, our brains are wired to see flowers and release a beneficial chemical in the brain called Dopamine—so brightly coloured plants are always a win.
As well as bolstering us, gardening has the ability to inwardly heal. In 2016, the Kings Fund found that gardening had many other benefits including the reduction of depression and anxiety, improved social function, emotional well-being, and physical health. For that reason, it’s an excellent idea to get 30 minutes of outdoor work a day.
The learning experience of gardening can lead to higher feelings of wellbeing, too. Setting targets and achieving them creates positive feelings of success. So, if you’ve hit a rut, garden up a glut!
If dead-looking plants have
white root and green in the stem,
there’s still life in your plant.
If you’re new to the gardening game, it’s a fine time to join. The uplifting experience of being outside and being active will leave you feeling better. It’s a no-brainer, get gardening and harvest a healthier you in more ways than one.
Happy gardening everyone!
How can I attract more ladybirds?
It’s really easy to make a habitat for ladybirds to encourage them into your garden. Either you can buy a bug hotel, which will attract all sorts of beneficial insects in, some of which the ladybirds will eat. Or, you can super glue pinecones together into a large ball, attach a string and suspend it from a tree in your garden—you’ll soon have an abundance of ladybirds laying eggs.
What’s the best way to keep caterpillars off young veggies?
Setting up bird feeders and birdhouses in your garden will attract more birds in and they will prey on the caterpillars in your garden – so do hedgehogs. Get going with making your outside spaces more wildlife-friendly and you’ll have the benefits of fewer caterpillars, and also the joy of having more birds and hedgehogs.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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