Hear ye, hear ye! It’s time for all the lovers of gardening to revel in their passion and go for it with renewed vigour. Yes, gardening has been officially declared as one of the best form of burning calories. So far, we only knew of the therapeutic benefits and now with an increasing number of studies declaring it as a perfect exercise, the green thumbs can rejoice! Here’s one for starters –keeping your garden in shape keeps you in a much better shape than the ones you’re tending to! Let’s then go on an easy, breezy ride of getting into top form even as we create the ideal space for our green co-dwellers.
A seven-year research of 12,000 middle-aged men at high risk for coronary heart disease showed that those who kept up moderate, leisure time physical activity for an average of about 50 minutes every day were healthier than those who did little or nothing. And one of the top choices of these active men was gardening. The key to good health, according to another study, is expending 2,000 calories a week in exercise, beyond the routines of daily life. Your cardiovascular system will benefit most from running, brisk walking, cycling, and other activities that raise your heart rate sufficiently for at least 20 minutes. But you can still get many benefits from an aerobic exercise such as gardening if you pursue it regularly.
Even the less strenuous forms of garden upkeep - weeding, trimming, raking - can burn off about 300 calories an hour. Spading, lifting, tilling, and raking can improve muscle tone and strength. You can make an effort to garden energetically, rather than just puttering. Try to work at a constant pace. Use manual clippers and trimmers instead of power equipment. As with any kind of exercise, it's a good idea to warm up and stretch before you start.
For your comfort, safety, and the good of your back and knees, keep these tips in mind:
- If you spend time on your knees, use a cushion. Keep your back straight and don't sit on your heels. Stand up and stretch your legs every 10 minutes or so.
- Use a lightweight, long-handled shovel or spade, and don't overload it. Bend at the knee and step forward as you raise and dump each shovel full of soil.
- Bend at the knees and hips when picking up tools.
Gardening can pay rich dividends, that running doesn't - flowers and fresh vegetables. Who's to measure the satisfactions and benefits of those?
Madhumitha Reddy, Jubilee Hills
“I spend hours everyday in my garden. I personally look after my vegetable roof garden, my lawns surrounding our home, flower garden and when I’m engrossed in gardening, I lose track of time. Organic gardening is time consuming but guess what, you don’t even realise where the hours have gone when you’re into it. It’s meditative and extremely therapeutic. Gardening is my deepest passion. I feel good about growing our own food. I can confidently say that my system is clean and healthy.”
Want more reasons to get up, get out and get in to your garden? Here they are:-
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, gardening qualifies as exercise. In fact, getting out in the yard for just 30-45 minutes can burn up to 300 calories
Routine garden upkeep activities, such as raking, weeding and trimming, engage multiple muscle groups at once, improving your overall fitness level.
Here are 7 strategies to transform gardening duties into a bonafide workout:
1. Create a routine. Treat gardening like any workout: Stretch for 10 minutes first then alternate light activities with heavier ones. You might rake for a little while, then dig a few holes, then prune. Cool down for 10 to 15 minutes, perhaps by snipping flowers or picking vegetables, and you’re done! Just keep in mind that gardening requires endurance, strength and flexibility, so it’s important to build up gradually.
2. Dig deep. Digging is one of the highest-intensity gardening activities. Pushing down with one foot, turning over the soil, then down on the other foot and bringing the soil to the top engages multiple muscle groups and forces you to get your hands dirty. Bottom line: Take every opportunity to dig.
3. Mix it up. Lifting and carrying 40-pound bags of mulch, stretching to reach low-hanging fruit and pushing a lawn mower around a large plot can be physically draining. Your best bet: alternate between activities like raking, mowing, weeding, pruning and digging. And if you’re spreading mulch, be sure to switch hands periodically.
4. Watch your form. Bending and twisting can cause injury if you’re not careful. In fact, bending at the waist instead of the knees is responsible for many gardening injuries. If you’re lifting heavy items, bend at the knees. Use long-handed tools to rake and hoe to avoid back pain. And if something hurts, stop what you’re doing and take a break.
5. Go old school. Use manual clippers, shears and mowers instead of tools that plug into an outlet. Using a traditional push mower, for example, requires you to use your legs, upper body strength and core. Not so with power mowers, or the type that you sit on and steer.
6. Build in strength training. Puttering around the garden may not qualify as high-intensity exercise, but you can incorporate strength-training exercises into your gardening tasks to increase the intensity. Do mini-squats and engage your core while you’re pulling weeds. Take break from digging and do some lunges. You can even pause while you’re mowing the lawn to do triceps .
7. Get your kids involved. Gardening is a great activity for the whole family. Inviting your kids to join you in the garden not only ensures they’ll get some activity, it also offers a great opportunity for bonding. You can use gardening as a backdrop for games.
Make mowing the lawn into a game of chase (safely of course), see who can dig the deepest ditch or pull the most weeds, or create a factory line with each family member performing a different task.
No matter how you slice it, our bodies need consistent motion to function optimally. Gardening is just one way to promote activity when you otherwise might be sitting. After all, if the weeds are infiltrating your yard, you have built-in motivation to get in the dirt and work. Time passes quickly, and before you know it, you’ve wracked up 60 minutes of exercise.
Hemanth Reddy, Businessman, Jubilee Hills
“I grew up in a village watching farmers. Interestingly, they were all physically fit with even though there was no organised exercise routine. Much later, I realized that working in the farm in itself is a complete work out. Bending forward, sitting on haunches, moving up and down, tilling, weeding etc. are movements that are very effective.”
Just keep in mind that gardening tools, methods, conditions and plot size all impact the intensity of your workout. If you’ve been inactive for months, start slow. Apply sunscreen, wear a broad-brimmed hat, and be sure to take frequent water breaks. And don’t forget to wear insect repellant. You don’t want to become an insect’s lunch when you’re growing your own food.
Seed, Soil, and Sun: Discover the Many Healthful Benefits of Gardening
- Helps fight disease.
- Builds strength.
- Improves memory.
- Boosts mood.
- Reduces stress.
- Helps addiction recovery.
- Fosters human connections.
- Heals and empowers.
Ashwini, Organo Naandi resident
“My 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter have changed a lot after we moved into Naandi. They are far more interested in gardening now. They are so curious to understand the process and keep asking the farmers endless questions. They also experiment with a little bit of gardening in our backyard. I believe it does them a world of good not only in terms of getting a first hand experience but also keeping them healthy.”
- Eating more fruits and vegetables has been shown to help us lose weight and improve BMI—plus, just 30 minutes of weeding and cultivating a garden burns about 170 calories. Luckily, you don't need a large backyard or even a green thumb to start an edible garden.
- Even the less strenuous forms of garden upkeep - weeding, trimming, raking - can burn off about 300 calories an hour. Spading, lifting, tilling, and raking can improve muscle tone and strength. You can make an effort to garden energetically, rather than just puttering. Try to work at a constant pace