It’s a well-known fact that spending time outdoors appreciating the beauty of nature and wildlife can boost mental health and relaxation. Spending time outside tending to the lawn, garden, and landscape not only benefits mental health but contributes to the physical activity adults need each week to stay healthy as well.
Does Gardening Count as Exercise?
According to the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans at health.gov, adults need 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity each week. They also need muscle-strengthening activities such as resistance training twice a week.
Gardening chores such as mowing, weeding, digging, planting, raking, trimming branches, carrying bags of mulch or compost, and applying said bags can all count toward weekly activity. The Physical Activity Guidelines also state activities can be done in bursts of ten-minute periods spread throughout the week.
Garden Themed Workout
So how can gardening chores be enhanced to achieve maximum health benefits? Here are some ways to exercise while gardening and tips to add momentum to your gardening workout:
- Do some stretches before heading out to do yardwork to warm up muscles and prevent injury.
- Do your own mowing instead of hiring. Skip the riding mower and stick with a push mower (unless you have acreage, of course). Mulching mowers also benefit the lawn.
- Keep your lawn tidy with a weekly raking. Instead of holding the rake the same way with each stroke, alternate arms to balance the effort. (Same when sweeping)
- When lifting heavy bags use the large muscles in your legs, rather than your back.
- Exaggerate gardening movements for extra oomph. Lengthen a stretch to reach a branch or add some skips to your steps across the lawn.
- Digging works major muscle groups while aerating the soil. Exaggerate the motion to increase the benefit.
- When hand watering walk in place or walk back and forth instead of standing still.
- Get an intense leg work out by squatting to pull weeds rather than kneeling.
Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Remember, even ten minutes of an activity counts.
Health Benefits of Gardening for Exercise
According to Harvard Health Publications, 30 minutes of general gardening for a 155-pound person can burn 167 calories, more than water aerobics at 149. Mowing the lawn with a push mower can expend 205 calories, the same as disco dancing. Digging in the dirt can use up 186 calories, on par with skateboarding.
Meeting the 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity offers health benefits such as “lower risk of premature death, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and depression,” reports health.gov. Not only that but you’ll have a lovely yard and garden.