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Tips to Make Gardening a Serious Workout

  • Category: LiveSmart
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  • Written By: Baldwin

Older woman gardening

Working in your garden or yard can be more exercise than you realize.

Gardening is a popular hobby that offers many rewards. It helps reduce stress and can give you a sense of accomplishment as you savor the fruits of your labor. Whether you simply enjoy looking at a colorful bed of flowers or love sinking your teeth into some fresh-grown produce, the activity benefits your mental and physical health. It can also be a great form of exercise.

Working in your garden gets your body moving and can be an enjoyable way to get in more physical activity. Even if you don't like formal types of exercise, such as going to the gym or riding a bicycle, you'll benefit from some health-boosting activity just by puttering around in your garden or keeping your lawn in tip-top shape.

When you garden, you get your heart pumping, which helps improve its health. You also breathe heavier, which puts your lungs to work. Not only do you get in some aerobic activity, but there are plenty of ways you'll build muscle strength as you lift and carry objects. Additionally, gardening improves your mobility and flexibility.

What kinds of gardening activities can be considered a workout? Here are some tasks that get your body moving:

  • Digging
  • Planting
  • Raking
  • Tilling
  • Trimming
  • Weeding
  • Watering
  • Mowing

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 154 lb person can burn 330 calories per hour just by doing light gardening or yard work. That's about the same number of calories you'll burn by dancing or playing golf (including walking from tee to tee and carrying your clubs). And it's more than you can burn in an hour by walking 3.5 mph, bicycling less than 10 mph, weight lifting or stretching. Heavy yard work, such as digging holes or chopping wood, can burn upwards of 440 calories an hour.

Tips to Increase the Intensity of Your Gardening Workout

Many gardening tasks are a good workout on their own, but if you want to up the intensity of the activity, here are some ways to do so. Just be sure to warm up before gardening, as you would with any other physical activity. Also, check with your doctor before starting any new activity or increasing the intensity of what you're doing, especially if you have chronic health issues.

  • Carry heavy objects, such as bags of soil or flats of flowers, from one location to another.
  • Fill large watering cans and carry them around the garden to water plants.
  • Use manual tools instead of power tools to cut, trim or dig.
  • Increase the pace when you mow the lawn.
  • Perform exercises during gardening activities, such as doing lunges or squats while pulling weeds.

The beauty of gardening is that you won't even feel like you're working out and it's an easily accessible activity you can do right in your own backyard. You'll not only enjoy physical benefits from gardening, but you'll also reap mental benefits as well. So it's a great all-around activity that can enhance your life and your health in many ways. 

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Date Last Reviewed: April 18, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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