physiquality blog: the benefits of gardening
Since one of our target demographics is seniors and baby boomers, Physiquality sometimes focuses on the softer side of fitness and wellness. My boss had found an article by a member and physical therapist on the benefits of gardening, and I agreed that it would be a great topic for our site.
While I’m not one to garden (my allergies to flowers and bee stings, along with my sensitivity to sun and heat, tend to preclude it), I do agree that it’s a great and practical way to stay healthy. I’m sure by the time we’ve settled into our new home and early spring hits, my husband will be earning these benefits many times over by planting roses and preparing the sod for summer.
The benefits of gardening
Summer is ending, and the end of extreme heat means it’s a great time to plant fall vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens, as well as fall flowers. Why plant your garden? Beyond the nutritional (and economical) benefits of growing your own fresh vegetables, you should remember that there are lots of health benefits that come with gardening as well.
The most obvious perks are physical; Joyce Klee, a physical therapist and co-owner at Physiquality member Clinton Physical Therapy Center in Tennessee, notes that “many of the movements in gardening — squatting, pulling, digging and lifting — keep muscles strong and toned. And required positions, like sitting while flexed forward, will help stretch tight muscles, making them more flexible.” You’ll also be burning about 250 calories per hour, the equivalent of ½ a Big Mac or 3½ glasses of wine.
That doesn’t even take into account the literal heavy lifting required to garden. Joyce says that “carrying such items as bags of soil, water jugs and other gardening equipment can help make bones stronger by offering a weight-bearing activity.” You should also consider getting a push lawnmower rather than an electric- or gas-powered one; pushing the mower at a moderate pace can give you great cardio training, especially if your yard has hills. And pulling weeds requires squatting, strengthening the hamstrings and quads in your legs.