A good friend recently got busy clearing brush from his long-neglected fence-line. “The exercise software in my phone was the second clue that this yard-work stuff can be a real workout,” he told us. “The first clue was how I felt.” A lifelong athlete, our friend had to admit that clearing brush in these cooler months was every bit of a full-grown workout.
Getting What We Need from What We Love
For people who’ve discovered the joys of growing, of working in the soil and seeing the generous answers that nature gives, it can be better news when they find out how easily they can make their love of gardening into a part of their fitness routine that they’re not tempted to short-change.
We’re always on the lookout for the individual choices, the characteristics of each client, that can put fitness and wellbeing right in the middle of the path they are on. Gardening, for many, can offer just such an opportunity.
Never Underestimate the Opportunity
If you think that gardening and yard work is sedentary, then you’re just not looking at it right. Did you know that just sweeping that flagstone patio or your deck can burn 200 calories per hour? Of course, not many of us have a deck that is one hour large, but still, this is an indication of where good exercise might be hidden right under our feet.
Raking is even better – 300 calories per hour, and yes that is an hour or more of work for many of us. Good reason to consider switching back to the rake and leaving the leaf-blower in the garage; your neighbors might thank you, too.
Trimming bushes or pruning trees was tailor-made for working out the pectoralis major, or “pecs.” No, the resistance is not such that you can expect to build mass. But tone – that’s the thing – and just imaging how many reps are involved in clipping that front hedge into shape. Even with a power trimmer, a 180-pound person can expect to burn about 142 calories an hour just trimming the shrubs.
Beneath the Surface
If you suspect that the big exercise payoffs from gardening have to do with digging, then you’d be right. Digging, spading, tilling, and laying sod are all worth at least 200 calories an hour. If you squat instead of kneel or sit to use your trowel, then you’re giving quads a major stretch. What’s more, your knees a needed lubrication, and every time you change position, you’re building muscle little by little. Remember, squats make everything stronger, including the core, so don’t skip the chance when you go to the garden.
Hauling away debris is another big payoff. Loading a wheelbarrow and carting it to a drop-off is a great workout for core, forearms, arms, shoulders, and back. Who could ask for more?
The moral of the story is to recognize and take advantage of exercise wherever you find it.