There is nothing that makes me happier than being in my garden. This is where you will find me each and every day during the summer months, pruning, weeding, and watering away. And being the fitness nut that I am, I love the health benefits it offers. Fitness doesn’t have to be in the gym and there is nothing better than true, organic exercise that starts right in your backyard. There’s no need to turn up the heat when you’ve got the summer sun shining upon your face and the birds providing your with your ultimate workout soundtrack. Gardening is the all-natural and healthy way to burn calories and stay active.
When you garden, you experience a number of health benefits. Gardening in particular is associated with mental clarity and feelings of reward. If that’s not enough, all that planting, watering, pruning, and weeding eases stress and anxiety, improves memory and concentration, aids in improving hand strength and dexterity, helps immune regulation, and boosts self-esteem and well-being. One long-term study found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by 36%. For sure, just being around your garden right in your own backyard can improve your state of mind, giving you more energy and helping you to feel more alert, alive, and peaceful.
I’m happy to say that I just finished laying down 15 yards of mulch to make our gardens summer ready. Talk about a workout! I easily logged over 30,000 steps each day on my Fitbit until the pile was gone! While you can burn calories by gardening, I wouldn’t make this your main objective. Make your main objective to be healthy and to feel good. The calorie burn will follow.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my gym workouts. They give me the structure and routine that I need. But, when I am looking for a full body rejuvenation and peace of mind, I turn to my garden for some organic, all-natural exercise.
If you’re the type that must know the calorie burn connected to your activities, here is a helpful guideline:
Applying Fertilizer or Watering: 20-50 calories/30 minutes
If you’re walking along applying fertilizer, seeding a lawn, or watering your garden, you’ll burn about 20-50 calories every half hour. It’s one of the lower-intensity activities on the list, so don’t expect to get too much of a workout here. Use this one to offset your higher-intensity workouts on other days. If you want to get more out of this activity, break it up. Instead of using a hose to water, use a watering can and walk back and forth to fill it.
Weeding: 150-170 calories/30 minutes
Spend about a half hour pulling weeds from your garden and you’ll burn about 150 calories. Other estimates put the number a bit higher, at about 170 per thirty minutes. The faster you go and the more vigorously you work, the more you’ll burn. To intensify the workout, use more squats and lunges to get at the weeds rather than sitting down in the dirt. Don’t let your knees go over your toes.
Planting: 150 calories/30 minutes
Planting will take about the same amount of effort as weeding, yielding a 150-pound person about 150 calories burned in about 30 minutes. You can increase that number by lunging as you go—lunge, plant, get up, step forward, lunge, plant, and go again.
Digging: 190-200 calories/30 minutes
Digging requires more energy than weeding or planting, as you usually have to rely on your muscles to get that dirt loosened and out. It’s a great exercise for your shoulders and back—just remember to keep your core muscles firm as you work to avoid hurting your back. If you’re squatting down or lifting rocks out, you’ll also be working your thighs and buttocks. A half hour will burn about 190-200 calories.
Clearing Land: 200 calories/30 minutes
If you’re just starting your garden, you may have to clear a space for it. This is a great activity to do to burn some calories, as it usually combines digging with lifting and carrying, working the entire body. Estimates are that you’ll burn about 200 calories every 30 minutes. The same is true for spading and tilling.
Mowing the Lawn: 50-250 calories/30 minutes
The best way to burn calories by mowing is to use a push mower. Estimates are that you’ll burn about 170 calories every 30 minutes this way. If you use a hand mower (without power), you’ll raise that number to about 250 calories every thirty minutes. A riding mower, of course, requires a lot less energy on your part—you’ll burn only about 50 calories every 30 minutes.
Hedge Trimming: 120-150 calories/30 minutes
Often when your trimming hedges or trees, you’re using heavy equipment that you have to hold up and move around. That can help burn more calories for you. Estimates vary—it probably depends on how heavy your equipment is and how intensely you work. Trimming in this way will burn about 120-150 calories per 30 minutes.
Manual trimming, though you’re not supporting the weight of a machine, may help you burn more calories, because you have to use more muscles to do the work. Estimates are that trimming by hand will burn about 180-200 calories per half hour. You’ll also be likely to build up your bicep and shoulder muscles.
Raking: 200-400 calories/30 minutes
The best way to turn this activity into a good calorie burner is to combine your raking and sacking activities. Rake for a bit, then stop and put the grass and leaves in your trash bag. Combining the two will help you burn about 200-300 calories or more per half hour. (Some estimates put it up in the 350-400 calorie range.) If you stick to raking alone, you’ll cut that number about in half.
To get the most out of your raking, stand with feet about hip-width apart and use a wide raking motion on each side. This is a great workout for your arms and upper body.
Laying Sod or Crushed Rock: 200 calories/30 minutes
This is a more high-intensity gardening activity, as you have to carry the sod pieces (or bags of rock), bend and stand to set them into place, and move them around to fit. You’ll burn at least 200 calories an hour at this activity.
Moving Waste with a Wheelbarrow: 300-400 calories/30 minutes
This is a higher-intensity workout because you’re lifting a significant amount of weight with the wheelbarrow and whatever is inside it. Estimates are that filling it, moving it, and dumping it will burn about 300-400 calories an hour, maybe more depending on how quickly you’re moving and how much you’re carrying.
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