Gardening can be a good way of burning calories
"It is easier and cheaper than going to the gym, an exercise class or swimming pool and many more formal activities', says Tim Spurgeon, advisory services manager for gardening charity Thrive.
"What's more you can work at your own pace and achieve something as you go along."
Here are just some of the benefits you can hope to reap from your garden.
Gardening burns fat
When it comes to burning calories digging and shovelling come top of the list with mowing and weeding not far behind. Spend half an hour doing any of the following activities and expect to use up:
- Digging and shovelling: 250 calories
- Lawn mowing: 195 calories
- Weeding: 105 calories
- Raking: 100 calories
Gardening tones you up
Wielding the hoe and strimming the edges are also great alternatives to a sweaty tone-up class in the gym.
Hedge trimming helps shapes your biceps while raking, forking and mowing will all help to strengthen the arms and shoulders as well as toning the abdominal muscles.
Digging and squatting down to move or lift objects can help tone thighs and buttocks.
Gardening protects your heart
Any activity that is energetic enough to leave you slightly out of breath and raise the heartbeat counts as moderate intensity exercise, which, according to the experts, can help protect against heart disease.
Get moving for just half an hour three times a week and you can expect some benefit, so if the sun is shining what better incentive do you need for venturing into the garden and pulling up those weeds?
Gardening is good for your bones
Women over 50 who garden at least once a week have a higher bone density reading (the reading used to diagnose osteoporosis) than women who take part in almost any other form of exercise, according to a study by the University of Arkansas. Apart from weight training, gardening did better than any other weight-bearing exercise including jogging, walking and aerobics.
Exposure to the UVB rays of the sun stimulates the production of vitamin D, which in turn helps the body absorb calcium which is also essential for healthy bones.
Gardening relieves stress
It's not just your body that will benefit. The psychological benefits of being outdoors, working in the sunshine and fresh air, are also clear.
Studies have shown that just looking at trees and plants reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and relieves tension in muscles.
In much the same way as a beautiful painting lifts the mood, looking at a summer garden, soaking up the colours, smells and sounds can help overall wellbeing.
Gardening stimulates the senses
Horticultural therapists have found that, for elderly patients in particular, gardening can stimulate all the senses - providing interesting sights, sounds, textures, tastes and scents - and stimulate memories and connection with the past.
Gardening builds confidence
Watching things grow from a tiny seed instils a sense of achievement and self esteem. "Gardening builds self confidence as well as teaching basic social skills," explains Tim Spurgeon.
It gives an opportunity for the gardener to take care of and responsibility for another living thing. It also keeps the brain busy by providing new plants, new flowers and new techniques that need to be learnt and absorbed.
Visit our gardening section for lots of great gardening tips.
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