It Might Be the Perfect Workout: Gardening

An unknown author aptly said, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.”

You might also say that gardening is cheaper than a gym membership, and you get tomatoes (and/or cucumbers, strawberries, flowers, etc).

Vegetable gardening might be the perfect low-impact workout for individuals who are interesting in consuming whole, unprocessed low-glycemic foods to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Flower gardening could well be the quintessential exercise for those motivated by the rewards of color, shape and fragrance – bouquets of beauty in exchange for A1c-improving cultivation efforts.

It’s More Exercise than You Might Think

You can walk around a store shopping for items you may or may not need – or you can expend the same energy fertilizing or seeding the lawn. Instead of walking at a moderate pace down the sidewalk, you can burn identical calories trimming trees or shrubs with a power tool.

Watering a lawn or garden uses the same fuel as knitting, reading or cruising social media sites. A leisurely bike ride is comparable to raking or seed-planting. Hoeing, weeding and trimming are as beneficial as a round of golf or doing some heavy cleaning.

Bending, reaching, squatting, lifting and twisting tone the muscles, burn fat and keep joints loose and flexible. Plus, as your plants and veggies are soaking up vital vitamin D from the sun, so are you. Getting plenty of natural light is mood-boosting and helps us sleep better at night.

Six Garden Workout Tips

It's important to note that gardening is a workout and can lead to injury if done too intensely or with bad form.

  1. Cool muscles are more prone to injury, even from seemingly simple tasks. Stretch for several minutes before heading out to tend your rows.
  2. Work at a steady pace, and every 15 to 20 minutes, alternate tasks (e.g., raking, planting, weeding, mowing, digging, trimming) to avoid the strain of repetitive movements.
  3. Using long-handled tools can prevent back strain.
  4. There’s a good reason many gardeners wear hats with wide brims or long visors: While getting some sunshine is good for us, overexposure is not. Save the back of your neck from sunburn by wearing a shirt with the collar turned up.
  5. When lifting heavy objects, bend at the knees, keep your back straight, and use your powerful thigh and butt muscles to stand.
  6. When the gardening workout is done, take some time to cool down: pick a few flowers or veggies, do some watering, or stroll about the yard enjoying your handiwork; maybe take a few pics to share on Facebook.

Those who happen to be yard-less can still reap the benefits of sunshine, make contact with the soil, and enjoy fresh flowers or produce by starting a container garden on the patio or balcony.

Think Quality of Life

In a survey published in Gardeners World magazine, 80 percent of the responding gardeners reported being satisfied with their lives. The satisfaction-with-life rating climbed to 87 percent with gardeners who spent at least six hours each week tending their plants.

Only 67 percent of non-gardeners reported having life satisfaction.

“In almost every garden, the land is made better and so is the gardener.” ~ Robert Rodale

Sources: Mercola; Weight Watchers
Photo credit: Kathleen Tyler Conklin

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