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Gardening For Exercise, by Jordan Rubin

Jordan Rubin

Tilling a garden anywhere when the ground contains more clay then compost is hard work. Anyone who has done this knows that it most certainly counts as exercise. Your legs work to anchor your stance while your core abdominal muscles and arms control a machine that sometimes has a mind of its own. Alternate this with digging and planting and you are sure to break into a sweat and burn plenty of calories. But what about more moderate forms of gardening? Does that count as exercise? Yes indeed. In fact, research backs the benefits of gardening as a form of physical activity.

Let’s take a look at spending several hours in your garden. Typically you will kneel and get up several times, using your leg muscles and stretching to reach various tools and plants. Also, repetitive motions such as digging a hole or raking get your heart rate going and challenge the endurance of various muscle groups such as those in your forearms. According to Dr. Barbara Ainsworth, an exercise physiologist, several aspects of gardening count as physical activity though they vary according to how much exertion they require. She rates them in groups in the following manner from least amount of exertion to the most:

Watering lawn or garden, standing or walking Walking, applying fertilizer or seeding a lawn, mowing lawn, riding mower Trimming shrubs or trees, power cutter Raking lawn, sacking grass and leaves, planting seeds, shrubs Mowing lawn, walk, power mower; weeding, cultivating garden; planting trees; operating snow blower, walking; trimming shrubs or trees, manual Carrying, loading, or stacking wood; clearing land, hauling branches; digging sandbox; laying sod Shoveling snow, by hand shoveling; chopping wood, splitting logs; mowing lawn, walk, hand mower; gardening with heavy power tools, tilling a garden; shoveling, light (less than 10 lbs./min.)

Like any other type of exercise, it is important to stretch afterwards. If you do not, your muscles may feel tight in the day or two after you garden. Stretching your quadriceps hamstrings and arms are the most important. To stretch your forearms, start by holding your right arm out straight in front of you and parallel to the ground. Now put your hand up (like you are giving someone the signal to stop) and use your left hand to push your right hand back toward your body. Now, put your right and down so it is perpendicular to your arm and the front of your hand faces toward your body. Place your left hand on top of the back of your right hand and push your right hand toward your body. Now, do both of these exercises on your left arm.

Another major benefit of gardening is that it is a different form of physical activity. Because our bodies adapt so quickly when we do the same physical activity, day in and day out, it is important to add some variation to our workouts. In addition, the sunshine helps your body manufacture vitamin D and getting fresh air does your mind a world of good. Though you are expending yourself physically, there is something very relaxing about getting out in the garden and working. You’ll hear the birds, smell the fresh outdoors and beautify your yard all while getting some exercise. Later you can relax while peaking out a window and taking pride in the gorgeous flowers you’ve planted while you eat (pesticide free) fruits and vegetables that you’ve picked from your own garden.

Beyond Organic
Beyond Organic
Common Makers Diet Jordan Rubin misspellings are Jordan Ruben, Jordan Reuben, Jordon Rubin, Jordon Ruben, or Jordon Reuben