Gardening for Exercise: Good for You, Good for the Planet
Are you tired of running or biking for cardiovascular exercise? Bored with picking up and putting down weights to build strength? Add purpose to your workout while being creative and environmentally conscious: try gardening for exercise!
Gardening is a sustainable practice that benefits the environment and can produce nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs. With all of the digging, prepping and pruning, it’s also great exercise. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Gardening can count toward this weekly total while also helping you to relax in a natural environment. Read on to learn how gardening can benefit physical and mental health and which activities are best for building fitness.
Studies have shown that gardening can improve life satisfaction, wellbeing, sense of community, and brain function. Gardening may also help you to better manage body weight and stress, and being outside in the sun can help you to meet your vitamin D needs. (Don’t forget the sunscreen!) In addition to the positive mental health benefits, gardening can also provide physical benefits by helping you build muscle and cardiovascular strength.
Make the most of your time working in the garden by including activities that improve your fitness. Here are some tips for turning your gardening routine into a challenging workout.
- Rake for 30 minutes to work your core and increase your step count.
- Use a push lawn mower to increase cardiovascular fitness. (It’s hard work!)
- Build strong back and arm muscles by digging with a large shovel.
- Hold a squat while weeding to increase leg strength.
- Load and push the wheelbarrow several times to build upper body strength.
Gardening is a fun, productive activity that individuals across different fitness levels can enjoy, and it’s an easy way to improve the environment around you. With benefits to physical, mental, and environmental health, gardening for exercise can be an efficient way to take care of yourself and others. If you’re ready to grow your first garden, a local garden center can give you advice on when to start planting and what plants are best for your area.
Soga M, Gaston KJ, Yamaura Y. Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2017;5:92-99. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007.