As scientists find pottering in the garden keeps women healthy… Easy ways to prune your waistline
- Just 30 to 60 minutes of green-fingered tasks can burn around 300 calories
- Annie Burdick reveals a selection of smart ways to optimise your garden workout
- Recommends carrying full watering cans to maximise calorie-burning
Spent an hour in the garden this weekend? Congratulations — you’ve completed a workout worthy of a session in the gym, and probably burned hundreds of calories, too.
Just 30 to 60 minutes spent on a variety of green-fingered tasks can burn around 300 calories and work out all the same muscle groups you’d use swimming or rock climbing.
And there are smart ways to optimise that exercise. Read on to get the best out of your outdoor spring tidy-up . . .
Annie Burdick reveals a selection of smart ways to optimise your garden workout as it’s revealed green-fingered tasks can burn around 300 calories (file image)
BREAK UP CHORES INTO LITTLE AND OFTEN
Space out your tasks so you have something sizeable to do as often as you can.
Rather than reserve one afternoon a month for a huge gardening job, try splitting up the work into 30-minute sessions several times a week. Weed one big patch at a time, then work in compost or spread gravel on one day and do a planting project on another. You’ll get that 30 minutes of garden time in as many days as possible and feel fitter for it.
SHIFT WEIGHT WITH A WATERING CAN
To maximise calorie-burning, these are the best exercises to focus on: collecting garden waste, weeding, raking, digging or turning over the soil and carrying full watering cans.
Get your heart rate up (the higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn). Focus on short, high-intensity activities — for example, a minute or two of focused digging — and include rest periods to recover.
Landscaping, moving rocks and hauling soil burns 400 to 600 calories per hour; raking and bagging leaves is 350 to 450 calories an hour; and pulling weeds is roughly 200 to 400 calories per hour.
Annie said pushing an old-school mower engages key core muscles, as well as your biceps and triceps (file image)
PUSH RATHER THAN PLUG IN A MOWER
Use an old-school mower that relies on human power rather than an engine or machine (it’s a win for the environment, too).
Pushing a mower engages key core muscles, as well as your biceps and triceps. After half an hour, you could have burned up to 200 calories, though this varies depending on your weight and the mower you use.
STRIKE A POSE WHILE PRUNING
Increase your flexibility and balance by making your movements methodical.
When you practise yoga, you build up to a pose, holding it for extended periods and then moving on to the next movement intentionally.
Do the same in your garden. As you lean forward to grab some tools, bend over to pick weeds or reach up to prune some branches from a shrub, focus on how your body feels. Lean into the movement and the muscles it’s working for a beneficial stretching workout.
GET WEEDING TO BUILD UP STAMINA
Annie said try building up stamina over time with aerobic activities such as weeding (file image)
Aerobic gardening tasks, which involve movements such as pulling, pushing and carrying, will all build endurance.
The World Health Organisation recommends exercise lasts at least ten minutes at a time to be considered aerobic. We should aim for 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, or a mix of the two.
If weeding for more than ten minutes is too difficult at first, that’s fine. Start there, then try for 15 minutes after a week or so, and build up stamina over time.
DIG FOR VICTORY — AND STRENGTH
Different activities work different muscles. Digging, for example, works your back hard. If you yank at a tough weed, you’ll feel the effort all up your arms.
Carrying a heavy watering can, meanwhile, or moving a pot, tests your forearms. When you crouch to deadhead a flower, you can feel your hamstrings and glutes stretching.
Pick exercises to focus on certain muscle groups — or switch it up to hit them all.
NOW, KEEP GOING WITH STAR JUMPS
If you’re feeling extra motivated, add short sets of other exercises in between gardening tasks. For example, after you finish watering you could do a set of squats. Weed a garden bed, then do five minutes of skipping. Mow a strip of lawn and then do ten star jumps.
- Adapted by Ciara Dossett from Gardening For Mind, Body And Soul, by Annie Burdick (£12.99, Summersdale). © Annie Burdick 2022. To order a copy for £11.69 go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £20. Offer price valid until March 9, 2022.
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