Get Fit and Healthy in the Garden Using These 7 StepsColin Campbell-Preston
Finding a health and fitness regime we enjoy and want to continue in the long term can be elusive for so many people. Jogging can be exhausting, spin classes daunting and yoga just sends us to sleep – making it a struggle to get that all important exercise. So, you can imagine how overjoyed we were to discover scientific research shows that gardening can boast many of some of the health and fitness benefits provided by jogging, swimming and walking.
This article from Michigan State University uses a significant quantity of scientific research to demonstrate how gardening can offer huge health and fitness benefits, whilst helping to combat a range of physical and mental illnesses.
So, with the backing of science, we’re gladly kicking off our new back garden exercise regime – one we’re pretty sure we’ll stick to. And like with any good exercise regime, we’re implementing a seven-step plan to make sure we get the most out of the hard work we’re putting in.
Here is our seven-step plan to get fit and healthy in the garden – which we’re gladly sharing with you all.
- Consider Your Fitness Goals
All the different aspects of gardening will offer their own unique health and fitness benefits – so the first thing to consider is which areas of fitness do you want to work on. If you’re looking to lose or manage your weight, or improve cardiorespiratory endurance, the more aerobic aspects of gardening may be preferable – such as mowing the lawn, creating plant beds or laying paving. These forms of gardening can get your heart beating a little faster, providing a good workout.
Other forms of gardening such as pruning are good for giving the hands and arms a workout – great for reducing the chances of developing conditions such as osteoporosis.
Or for a more general workout, pulling weeds and digging holes can use muscle groups from all over the body.
- Build a Community
Finding people to share your gardening pursuit of health and fitness brings with it two main benefits. The first one is the increase in the number of jobs which require completing when more gardens are involved – so you won’t run out of gardening tasks. There’s only so many times you can mow your lawn, or touch up the topiary.
The second benefit is the social aspect of belonging to a community of gardeners. Having someone pitching in with you in the garden can make it even more enjoyable. Also, if you’re scheduling in regular gardening sessions with your fellow gardeners, you’ll be less likely to opt out in favour of sitting in front of the TV with a big bag of crisps.
- Dream Big
Light maintenance of the garden (especially smaller, inner city gardens) may not require a great deal of work every week, meaning you could end up working for just a few minutes before sitting back and enjoying a not-so-well-earned glass of lemonade.
So, naturally it makes sense to set yourself a big target which will require a good amount of work. A big, ambitious final gardening goal will not only keep you interested and exercising for longer – but could also lead to an end result you never thought you’d be able to manage in your own garden.
Building a summer house or developing a tulip garden that the horticulturists of Keukenhof Gardens would be proud of, are just two grand, ambitious gardening goals which could keep you active for a long stretch.
- Fit the Gardening into Your Schedule
You are far more likely to give up with your health and fitness pursuits in the garden if they are inconvenient. When they slot into your daily schedule, providing minimal disruption to your life, then you’ll likely keep it going long enough to start seeing great results. This step is particularly important for those who have busy schedules, and struggle to find time to dedicate to any health and fitness regimes.
An hour after work, a couple of times a week, or a longer stretch on the weekend, are often the best times to fit gardening exercise into a busy schedule without causing too much disruption.
- Plan a Little Diversity
Even if you are keen to strictly pursue one exercise goal, it’s important to diversify your gardening activity – protecting against the possibility that you will grow bored of your new regime. Play around with the possibility of creating slightly different schedules every week – offering a bit of variety every time you toe into the shed for your tools.
As long as you retain your interest in the regime, getting the exercise and health workout you desire will be much easier.
- Create the Winter Back-Up Plan
Most of us are guilty of hanging up the hoe when the weather takes a turn for the worse, preferring to stay out of the wet and the cold and remain indoors where it’s nice and warm. Even the most green-fingered amongst us must admit it is difficult to pluck up the enthusiasm to put down that steaming cup of tea, kick off the slippers and slip into the wellies for spot of gardening, when it is miserable outside.
So, this necessitates a little back-up plan during the winter months (which can be roughly 60% of the year, here in the UK), so the health and fitness regime doesn’t stagnate. This can take a few forms: braving the cold once a fortnight during a sunny (if not particularly warm) weekend, developing a garden indoors, if you have space, or attending the dreaded gym.
Whatever your preferred winter contingency, it is best to have a plan during this trying part of the year.
- Record Your Progress
If you have a measurable target for your fitness regime, it is important that you record your process. From weight loss to lung capacity, different factors can be measured either at home or at a health club/GP’s office.
If your gardening for fitness process is proving successful, witnessing the results first hand can help spur you on to continue your good work. Additionally, knowing you’re succeeding with your grand fitness plan can make the whole regime even more enjoyable and rewarding.
At the other end of the scale, if your measurable targets are not being met, then it is possible to change your processes. By recording progress which has reached an impasse, you will be aware that it is time to switch things up. This can help you find the gardening activity which best helps you meet the targets you have set out for yourself.
Inspired to start your own health and fitness regime in the garden? At Capital Gardens, we have everything you need to kickstart your workout routine. Head to one of our three store locations to view our complete range of quality gardening products.