How to keep fit – and smell the roses

THINKING that gardening and landscaping aren’t for you? You may want to look at these outdoor activities in a different light.

Research horticulture specialist Diane Relf tells us that gardening is a lot more than a hobby or a way to have fresh vegetables.

Research shows that gardening is an ideal form of exercise because in addition to its physical exertion values it also has many other merits.

Gardening is moderate, and sometimes strenuous, exercise that incorporates many important elements of accepted exercise regimes, such as stretching and stance, repetition and movement, and even resistance principles similar to weight training, while expending kilojoules.

It provides an adequate and challenging workout, but is not as stressful to the body as other exercise options, such as jogging or aerobics.

It is still important to warm up muscle groups by properly stretching before gardening and it is imperative to use proper techniques for lifting objects, bending, or carrying.

Unlike many exercise options, you can become involved in what you are doing and still take time to smell the roses.

In one study, exertion values were assigned to human physical activities of all kinds.

These values were based on the ratio of the associated metabolic rate for the specific activity divided by the resting metabolic rate.

These studies show that an individual expends just as much energy performing most gardening tasks as he or she would participating in exercise routines, sports or other physical activities.

Gardening is an excellent means of diverting the mind from work, family conflicts or other issues, hence relieving stress and providing mental relaxation.

It is great for unwinding after a difficult day at work, especially when gardening on a small, personal scale.

If you garden fairly regularly, you’re probably getting a healthy dose of exercise.

Most research recommends 30 minutes daily of moderate activity.

Gardening uses all of the major muscle groups, the muscles that do most of the kilojoule burning.

Your arms, legs, buttocks, shoulders, back and stomach all get a workout.

During 30 minutes of active gardening, an 81kg person can burn the following number of kilojoules: raking, 677; bagging leaves, 677; weeding, 760; mowing with a push mower, 760; digging or tilling, 844; planting trees, 760; and planting seedlings, 677.

Best of all, you can break these activities up into short sessions over the course of the day without losing health benefits.

Weeding for 10 minutes in the morning and raking and bagging leaves for 20 minutes in the evening gives you the same benefit as 30 minutes of continuous activity.

So get outside, get gardening, and get healthy and fit. © Kim Cowherd

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