How to tend to your physique as well as your plants

The New Year inspires resolutions of getting healthy and aiming to endure more exercise. But why join the hustle and bustle of a busy gym when you have a perfectly good alternative in your back yard? You may not feel like you’re pumping iron when you’re pruning your Privet, but did you know that gardening is one of the most effective ways to exercise?

Its true! Gardening reaps huge rewards and as well as sculpting your outdoor space, you’re sculpting your body and moulding your mind without even realising it. Did you know that it’s estimated that three hours in the garden can have the same effect as an hour-long intensive gym workout, with even the simplest gardening jobs, such as half an hour of weeding, burning around 150 calories.

Seeing the fruits of your labours flourish and bloom is immensely satisfying which is great for your wellbeing. A previous study carried out for Gardener’s World magazine revealed 93% of gardeners feel their horticultural hobby lifts their mood. No wonder it’s used as a form of therapy with social and therapeutic horticulture on the increase, where pottering with plants is used as a prescription to good physical and mental health.

Women gardening

Here are our top tips on how you too can tone up as you tend:

Warm up: Stretch your muscles first before you begin. This regime is important as many people who don’t garden much are often surprised to find that they’re aching the next day. The continuous bending and lifting of gardening chores takes a strain on muscles and without a proper warm up can certainly hinder your movement. So warm up first.

Close-up of someone gardening Alternate your activity: Alternate light activities such as planting and pruning with more strenuous ones like mowing. By changing up your usual gardening activities, you’ll get maximum benefit because you’re working different areas of the body which contribute towards toning and muscle building.

Manual labour: Use your body to do the job yourself if you can. A pair of manual clippers instead of electric ones for instance will burn more calories and tone you up at the same time. If you do need to resort to electrical equipment for jobs like hedge trimming, you’ll still get a good workout – it’s just like lifting weights at the gym.

Man digging in the gardenDig deep: Stretch out that spade and dig deep and raise your rake – by exaggerating your movements, you’ll work your muscles harder. The ground provides you with natural resistance when you dig or rake. As your body works harder to move the soil, your exaggerated body movements will cause your muscles to work harder which means you get stronger.

So when gym memberships and good intentions fail to flourish, head out to your garden. It’s a hobby you likely already enjoy, and now you know it can be a great exercise regime too.

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