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Gardening: It Does a Body Good

Gardening is the “superfood” of exercise.  It has a host of excellent benefits for mind and body.  How can you turn a day of gardening into an effective workout?

Gardening as a Workout

If you do not think that gardening counts as a workout, talk to landscapers.  Talk to someone who has worked all day transplanting out-of-control rosebushes and carrying rocks to make a border.  It is hard!  And your body likes that just as much as your mind does.  Even being outside, just looking at trees and plants, can help elevate your mood – while lowering blood pressure. Active gardening, which includes everything from raking and weeding to digging and clearing land, works muscles of the body.  You can get, in one gardening session, moderate cardiovascular exercise, weightlifting, and stretching. Most people, particularly those with jobs outside the home save their gardening for the weekend and do marathon sessions.  This is a good workout, of course, but to get the most benefit for your effort, try to break your chores up into 30 to 60 minute sessions at least three times a week. General gardening burns about 202 calories per 30 minutes (for a 170 pound person); that is comparable, if not greater, than a good walk, and it involves the use of more muscles.  If you include more heavy-duty activities, such as carrying water for plants, transplanting trees or saplings, laying sod, or breaking ground for a new garden, then you can up your calorie burn even more. No excuses: virtually anyone can garden.  Even those with arthritis, bad knees, bad backs, or other injuries can create accommodations that make it easier, such as raised beds or gardening stools or pads.  Prime gardening times are early morning and late afternoon/early evening, so you can get your time in before or after work. Gardening is just about excuse-proof.  Even if you have only a small patch of lawn, you can garden in a “square foot,” as is the growing trend in urban areas. At the end of the day, you have a beautiful yard and, hopefully, a harvest of fresh produce as a reward for efforts.  Until the green beans and broccoli come in, make sure to fuel up with natural, organic sustenance.