Gardening is a lot more than a valuable hobby or a way to have
fresh vegetables and salads. Research is showing 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 calories. Gardening 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 is imperative to use
proper techniques for lifting objects, bending, or carrying. Also, unlike many
exercise options, you can become involved in what you are doing and still take
time to smell the roses!
Gardening is a great remedy for people with different types of
physical and mental disabilities. There are a lot of gardening technique,
accessories and equipment are being designed and developed over the years to
help the disability population enjoying gardening as well as healing in
In a recent study by Barbara Ainsworth and associates,
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 some gardening tasks as they
would participating in recommended exercise routines.
Effort exerted during gardening tasks versus
during conventional exercises
EFFORT EXPENDED IN GARDENING ACTIVITIES
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,
Mowing lawn, walk, power mower; weeding, cultivating
garden; planting trees; operating snow blower, walking; trimming shrubs or
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.)
EFFORT EXPENDED DURING OTHER ACTIVITIES
Lying quietly, reclining, sleeping
Sitting, knitting, sewing
Carpentry, general, workshop; bowling
Walking, 3.0 mph, level, moderate pace, firm surface
Bicycling, <10 mph, leisure; water aerobics; fishing
Cleaning, heavy or major; golf, general
Softball or baseball, general; hunting, general; bicycling,
Aerobics, general; swimming, general
Basketball, general, non-game
Gardening is an excellent means of diverting the mind from
work, family conflicts, or other issues, hence relieving stress and providing
mental relaxation. Gardening is a relaxing activity, great for unwinding after a
difficult day at work, especially when gardening on a small, personal scale.
Keeping plants in good health satisfies the human instinct to
nurture and provide care. Gardeners are rewarded for their efforts when the
plants they have pampered and coddled flower, produce beautiful fruit, and
maintain a healthy appearance.
Ainsworth, Barbara, et al. 1993. Compendium of physical
activities: Classification of energy costs of human physical activities.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, pp.71-80.
Restuccio, Jeffrey P. 1992. Fitness the dynamic gardening way.
Publishers Distribution Service, 121 East Front Street, Suite 203, Traverse
City, MI 49684.