It’s a brand new year and statistics show that at least 50 percent of Americans make some kind of New Year’s resolution. The fact that getting healthy tops the list is no shocker — it's among the most common New Year's resolutions. However, you don't need to put on the Lycra for an exhausting aerobics class – just pop on your wellies and head out the back door to your garden.
Not only is gardening good for the soul, but research shows it’s also good for the waistline. But is gardening really good exercise? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate intensity activities such as gardening, for 2.5 hours each week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer and premature death. Here are just some of the benefits you can reap from gardening:
Gardening Burns Calories - losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume, and the amount of weight you’ll lose gardening depends on several factors including your size and the work you are performing. When it comes to burning calories, digging and shoveling are at the top of the list followed by mowing and weeding. Spend a half an hour doing any of the activities below and expect to burn between 100 to 250 calories (examples provided by Iowa State University):
- Digging and shoveling: 250 calories
- Lawn mowing: 195 calories
- Weeding: 105 calories
- Raking: 100 calories
Gardening Tones You Up - not only does gardening burn calories – it strengthens and tones muscles as well. Gardening is a whole-body workout utilizing legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen. For example, hedge trimming helps shape your biceps while raking and mowing will all help to strengthen the arms and shoulders as well as tone the abdominal muscles. Lifting bags of mulch, pushing a wheelbarrow and shoveling also provide resistance training, which leads to healthier bones and joints. To get the most out of your gardening workout alternate gardening tasks to make use of different muscle groups.
Gardening Protects Your Heart - any activity that is brisk enough to leave you slightly out of breath and raise the heartbeat counts as moderate intensity exercise, which, according to the experts, can help protect against heart disease.
Like any other form of exercise, you need to be active for at least 30 minutes for there to be a benefit. So, if the sun is shining what better incentive do you need for getting out into the garden and digging in the dirt?
Gardening Relieves Stress - if you’re looking for ways to relieve stress, look no further than your own backyard. Many people who garden do it because they enjoy it, and say that gardening helps them to relax and escape from daily stresses. The psychological benefits of being outdoors and working in the sunshine and fresh air are also clear. Studies have shown the beneficial effects of simply being in nature for decreasing stress. In much the same way as a beautiful painting elevates the mood, looking at a summer garden, soaking up the colors, smells and sounds can help overall wellbeing.
The great thing about gardening is that it can be both energetic and relaxing at the same time. Gardening can also be and a year-round activity — even in the winter you can rake leaves, work in the greenhouse or do some pruning. And there is nothing better than being able to stand back and admire the fruits of your labor while improving your health and wellbeing at the same time.