Gardening to Get in Shape
While gardening is usually considered a productive way to grow beautiful plants and obtain tasty fruits and vegetables, few gardeners have ever considered the immense amount of exercise one can get in gardening. While you can get almost as much muscle (if not more) exercise as you do working out, it is very productive at the same time.
You may wonder how gardening could possibly give as much exercise as working out. Just think about all the various facets of preparing a garden. There are holes to be dug, bags and pots to be carried, and weeds to be pulled. Doing all of these things helps to work out almost every group of muscles in your body.
My brother is a fanatic about working out. Almost every time I call his house, I interrupt some muscle-toning activity. I’ve never really enjoyed working out, though, as the constant lifting of heavy things strains my body with no immediate positive results. But while he is into working out, I am almost equally enthusiastic about gardening. I work outside improving my garden almost every day. I surprised my brother when he realized I am almost as muscular as he is, but I have never lifted a single dumbbell!
Before you go out into your garden, you should always stretch out. Even if your goal isnít to work out and get exercise, it is still a good idea. Often gardeners spend long periods of time hunched over or bent over. This can be bad for your back. So not only should you stretch out beforehand, but you should always take frequent breaks if you spend long time in these positions.
Weeding and pruning are some of the best workouts a gardener can get. With the constant crouching and standing, the legs get a great workout. If your weeds are particularly resistant, your arms will become particularly toned just from the effort required to remove them from the ground. If you plan on taking the whole workout, think very seriously, you should always be switching arms and positions to spread out the work between different areas of your body.
One of the most obvious exercise methods is transporting and lifting bags and pots. Between the nursery and your house, you must move the bags multiple times (to the checkout, to your car, to your garden, and then spreading them out accordingly). As long as you remember to lift with your legs and not your back, transporting bags and pots can give you a fairly big workout, even though you probably donít often make those purchases.
Mowing your grass can also be great exercise. If you got an older mower that isnít self-propelled, pushing it through the grass will give you more of a workout than going to the gym for a few hours. During the course of mowing the grass, you use your chest, arms, back, and shoulder to keep the mower ahead of you. Your thighs and butt also get worked a lot to propel the mower. Not only do you get an all around muscle workout, but it can improve your heart health. It is good for you as a cardiovascular activity and a great way to lose weight due to the increased heart rate and heavy breathing.
If you plan on gardening to get in shape or lose some weight, you can hardly go wrong. Just be sure to stretch out, drink plenty of water, and apply sunscreen. As long as you take steps to prevent the few negative effects such as pulled muscles, dehydration, and sunburn, I think you will have a great time and end up being healthier because of it.
Cover Photo by Arjun Sreekumar