Don’t feel guilty not going to the gym—yard work is calling! Whether you’re pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, trimming bushes or turning a compost pile, spending the way working outside in your garden is great exercise. Did you know that about an hour of moderately strenuous gardening can burn up to 350 calories?
Gardening and yard care involve a number of different kinds of exercises, including stretching, lifting and a moderate cardiovascular workout. Take raking leaves, for example. Pulling the rake works your arms and back, while bending down to pick up piles is good for your legs. Lifting pots, especially if you squat deep, targets your legs and glutes. Digging and pulling weeds is good for your arms and shoulders.
Consciously exaggerating your motions (without overdoing it) is a good way to increase both muscle and cardio benefits. For a better cardio workout, pick up the pace when mowing the lawn, pushing the mower at a steady pace without taking a break. A 130-pound woman can burn up to 200 calories in just a half hour while mowing!
Another benefit to working in your yard is mental health. Gardening is soothing, with all the repetitive motion and the time out you take from your usual busy routine (try leaving your phone inside!). Plus, it’s productive. You’ll get a great sense of satisfaction making visible improvements to the scenery you look at outside your window every day.
If you’re growing fruits, vegetables or herbs, you also get the benefit of creating healthy food for your family. Growing your own food gives you complete control over quality—use organic seeds and avoid chemical pesticides for organic produce.
As with any exercise, it’s best to warm up a bit before digging in. Do some basic stretches so your muscles are ready. Be sure to apply sunscreen before heading out. I like a sport formula such as Blue Lizard Australian Sport, which stays in place even when you sweat. Also keep a bottle of water nearby to stay hydrated.
You’ll feel so good when the work is done. Fresh air, a good overall body workout, and a beautiful yard—that can’t be beat!
Have you been to the Vitacost garden store? Click here to browse hundreds of seed varieties and helpful gardening supplies, including natural pest control products!
NPC National Figure competitor Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com.