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Gardening is exercise!

I’ve been inspired to help out with our garden this year. Over the past couple of days I’ve been out cultivating the soil with one of those garden claw things. After a few years of this not being done it was quite a bit of work to get through the tiny roots that are EVERYWHERE. I decided to turn my efforts into an experiment of how an hour gardening compares to an hour of walking. I set my fitness tracker and got to work. Here are the results:

  • In one hour of walking I covered 5.06 km, burned 311 calories, and saw my heart rate get to a maximum of 129 bpm.
  • In one hour of gardening I covered .92 km, burned 350 calories and saw my heart rate get to maximum of 149 bpm.

It’s important to keep in mind that the terrain walked on will affect the numbers just as the type of gardening that is done. My walking route was rather flat, and the gardening, thanks to roots, was strenuous. Still, I have a new appreciation of using gardening as a form of exercise. As I have said before, I believe all movement counts. The most important point is that we bring as many different types of movement into our lives as we can.

One of the greatest benefits of gardening is the multidimensional movement that is built in to the activity. Changing directions, bending down, standing up and balancing on uneven surfaces are all part of the game. Generally speaking, none of this happens on a walk. That makes gardening a great activity for functional fitness.

This information gathering has changed my approach to gardening. I will now treat it as a workout, and plan it out accordingly with a warm-up and cool down. It will look like this:

  • Warm-up: 5 – 10 minutes of preparation time that will include walking around to survey what needs to be done, getting the tools ready, and some light warm-up moves like squats and windmills.
  • Working time: 40 – 45 minutes of working time that will include drinking water, especially in the hot weather.
  • Cool down: 10 -15 minutes of putting all the tools away, and stretching the muscles used, especially of the legs and buttock (if you would like some effective stretches, please write to me at the address below and I will email you instructions).

The additional benefits to using gardening as exercise is that it gets an item crossed off of the to do list, and it feeds the soul with time spent in the dirt with the worms and slugs. It really is precious.

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