Even just 30 minutes of exercise whilst doing the garden several days a week will benefit your health. But is gardening really considered good exercise? For the most part, yes and we certainly feel like we’ve put in a good day’s work, after gardening for hours on end!10-04-2014
GARDENING IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH!
Maintaining fitness should be a necessity of life, not just an option. After all, we may not be able to add years to life, but we can add life to the years we have by remaining as active as possible. It’s true that there may be a decrease of physical ability for many in their 60s, others later, while some lucky people enter advanced old age still performing at the level of younger adults! But ageing and inability is not the same thing.
Trouble is, today we use our brain instead of our brawn often to the detriment of our physical wellbeing. We sit around too much at work and at home, heart disease, joint problems, osteoporosis and digestive disorders are just some of the results. We need to get out of the habit of disguising physical and some mental problems as ‘just old age creeping on’. Its common sense to keep fit and it’s easy to help yourself by simply being more active. Start by doing something you enjoy... perhaps a day in the garden?
Even just 30 minutes of exercise whilst doing the garden several days a week will benefit your health. But is gardening really considered good exercise? For the most part, yes and we certainly feel like we’ve put in a good day’s work, after gardening for hours on end! Gardening rates with other moderate to strenuous forms of exercise, like walking and bicycling, but it all depends on what gardening task you are doing and for how long. Like any other form of exercise, you have to be active for at least 30 minutes for there to be health benefits.
However the good news is that researchers are now saying you can break up those 30 minutes into shorter active periods throughout the day, as long as each activity lasts around 10 minutes and is of moderate intensity. When you total them up to 30 minutes per day, you’ll reap the same rewards as if you had been gardening for a straight half hour. So you could do some weeding in the morning, pruning in the afternoon and then cut the grass in the evening!
So why is gardening good exercise? Well, whilst you are busy enjoying yourself you are also working all the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen. Gardening tasks that use these muscles build strength and burn calories! So besides the exertion involved, it can help you shape up. Losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume and so the amount of weight you’ll lose whilst gardening depends on several factors, including your size and the task you are performing.
It’s a good feeling to know those tired muscles are actually doing something good for your wellbeing. There can be a great deal of stretching involved with gardening, like reaching for weeds or tall branches, bending to plant, or the pulling action of raking the lawn. Lifting bags of compost, pushing wheelbarrows and heavy digging all provide resistance training similar to weight lifting, which leads to healthier bones and joints. Research is showing that gardening for just 30 minutes daily will help:
• Prevent osteoporosis
• Strengthen joints
• Increase flexibility
• Decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• Lower your risk of diabetes
Gardening should be part of your exercise plan, but don’t forsake your daily walk or swim. Start slowly especially if you’re not used to the exertion, and lift correctly, by using your legs...not your back! To get the most benefit out of gardening vary your tasks and your movements to make use of the major muscle groups. Aches and pains aren’t necessarily a sign of a good workout, your muscles may feel tired, but they shouldn’t hurt unless you’re using muscles you haven’t worked in a long time... or you’re using them incorrectly.
As with any form of exercise check with your Doctor if you haven’t gardened for a while or are in any doubts regarding aspects of your health. But when you’ve done digging there’s nothing better than relaxing in a hot bath with a few drops of fragrant mineral oils....it will make you feel so good!