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How many calories does gardening burn?

14 May 2020 ( 09 May 2022 )

According to the experts a few hours hard gardening can work wonders for your health and wellbeing - as well as burn calories fast.

Mature lady watering the garden
Gardening can be a good way of burning calories

Gardening offers many health benefits, and one of many is how great it is for burning calories. Here are just some of the rewards you can hope to reap from your garden, including information on how it can help you de-stress, tone you muscles and burn fat.

For expert gardening tips from some of the UK's best-known gardening experts, visit our gardening tips and advice section.

Calories burned in gardening

When it comes to burning calories in the garden digging and shovelling come out at the top of the list, with mowing and weeding not far behind. Spend half an hour doing any of the following garden activities and expect to burn up:

  • Digging and shovelling: 250 calories
  • Lawn mowing: 195 calories
  • Weeding: 105 calories
  • Raking: 100 calories

There are 3,500 calories in one pound of body fat, so spending a few active hours each week in the garden will stack up over time and help you get fit.

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Gardening tones your muscles

Wielding the hoe and strimming the edges of your lawn are great alternatives to a sweaty tone-up class in the gym.

Hedge trimming helps shape 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.

10 ways to get fit without going to a gym

Gardening is good for 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?

10 healthy reasons to get outside more

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.

What stress does to your health

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. 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.

Gardening is one great way to help keep fit but there’s a whole world of exercise and keeping healthy to explore. Find out more with our dedicated exercise and fitness articles.

Need to talk to a GP from the comfort of your own home? Saga Health Insurance customers can talk to a qualified, practising UK GP 24 hours a day by phone. Find out more about our GP service.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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