We are getting to that time of year again when the sun is shining and we all want to spend more time out in our gardens. The brighter and longer days, the green grass and the sweet scent of flowers can certainly lift our spirits creating a happier and more relaxing mood. Most of us want to spend more time outdoors soaking up the sunshine and less time indoors, especially when you work in an office environment. So you will be pleased to learn that instead of heading to the gym in the Summer evening you can create a moderate intensity workout whilst working on your own garden, it’s a win, win situation all round.
The important thing to remember when embarking on a full-body workout in your garden is that if you do no other fitness the rest of the year, you must start off slowly as the number of gardening injuries go up in the Spring/Summer months, especially back injuries caused by bad posture or moving heavy pots around the garden without assistance.
Gardening to keep fit
Research suggests that 3 hours of gardening can burn the equivalent calories of a one-hour session at the gym. There are so many movements that are involved in gardening – walking, lifting, squatting, digging, raking and mowing which all use different muscle groups. Virtually all the activity to maintain a garden is low impact, therefore, relatively easy on the skeleton, but sufficient to increase your heart rate.
Please also remember to do some form of warm up, perhaps some light weeding, before you embark on the more strenuous aspects of gardening, such as digging. Mowing the lawn is a good all-rounder to work on a variety of muscle groups in the arms, shoulders, legs and with the right posture also your abs. A manual push mower is harder to use but will work your muscles harder, a powered mower will mean you burn less calories, however, it still needs to be controlled, moved, started, emptied and walked behind. All of which will engage various muscle groups including your core. You can also target more specific areas such as the bottom when you are squatting whilst weeding, and then change position and weed or prune when you are on your hands and knees and this will target your abdominal area. Whilst pushing your wheelbarrow around the garden you can be working on your shoulder and arm area as well as your thighs as you squat to lift and lower the wheelbarrow.
In order to prevent injuries, always lift correctly and never try to lift something that is too heavy. Always use both sides of your body, and try not to concentrate on one task for too long – maybe look at changing jobs every 20 – 30 minutes and always do a cool down and some stretches on the muscles that you have used. Always remember to keep hydrated throughout the day, especially in the sunshine and don’t wait until you’re thirsty before you grab a drink, have one with you at all times.
Gardening is not only good for keeping your body fit and healthy, it is also good for the mind and soul too. Spending time in nature is a natural relaxer which reduces stress, aids relaxation, and when combined with gardening boosts the body’s production of natural ‘feel good’ endorphins. Anyone who has been to the gym will know the warm afterglow from a good session, now you can combine that with a deep sense of satisfaction of a job well done as you sit back and admire your beautiful garden.
Enjoy your workout!
Source: Telegraph gardening