29 Aug 2018

Bin the gym membership - get gardening to lose weight

Bin the gym membership - get gardening to lose weight

Mulching a bed with compost – stretching and lifting
Pricking out Aquilegia seedlings – very Zen-like

How many New Year's resolutions evaporate into thin air before the end of January (along with unused gym memberships)?

The vast majority, I reckon. The trouble is, you have to make the effort to actually go to a gym to do exercise with no incentive  - apart from weight loss and increased fitness!

That's where gardening comes in. You don't have to travel, there's a range of activities to do and you have organic, healthy produce to eat at the end. It's a no-brainer.

I once attended a diabetes clinic with my mother. One of the questions was: 'What's a good way to lose weight around the home?'

The top answer was 'vacuuming' – not one person chose gardening. The nurse asked people what they thought were gardening activities. Deadheading flowers and sowing seeds were common answers – only one person said mowing the lawn.


Burning calories

Gardening has many activities that burn calories - digging, turning a compost heap, carrying watering cans, pots and bags of soil, sustained weeding.

My garden consists of gravel paths which I laid myself. The bags weigh 20kg and there's at least five tonnes there! (I didn't lay it all at once, that would be madness).

General gardening burns approximately 300 calories an hour, a mix of cardiovascular exercise and stretching.

I suffer from a bad back which always gets worse at 'pot lifting time' – Spring and Autumn, when the tender plants are taken outside from the greenhouse and conservatory.

Unfortunately, the latter is one the first floor – that's stair aerobics for you!

Gardening has been proven to lower the risk for cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes and reduces stress and anxiety.

Zen-like stress relief

A Zen-like activity I enjoy is sowing and pricking out seedlings in March – it's a restful way to pass the time but sharpens your concentration and there is the uplifting thought that summer's not far away, even if it's still snowing!

Like exercising at the gym, garden at least three to five times a week for 30 minutes to an hour to lose weight and tone up sagging muscles.

I love to garden in winter and spring, when tasks like digging, mulching or shovelling snow really come into their own. There's something special about having a well-earned cuppa out in the cold.

Weeding is like garden yoga, as it promotes gentle stretching in the legs, arms, shoulders and back.

Behave like you're in a gym

Act like you would in a gym – warm up and down properly, pay attention to posture and correct core muscle position and avoid jerking motions.

Here's a rough idea of what you can expect to burn in 30 minutes of non-stop gardening:

  • Watering with a hose: 61 calories
  • Raking leaves: 162 calories
  • Weeding: 182 calories
  • Clearing land or digging: 202 calories
  • Chopping wood or using a manual lawnmower: 243 calories
  • Shovelling snow: 243 to 364 calories

Take regular breaks and intersperse tough cardio exercise with lighter tasks.

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