The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon takes place on 22 April – but you don’t have to run a marathon to keep fit. In fact, for a great all-round workout, gardening takes some beating.
Gardening ticks lots of exercise boxes, which is great news for those of us who aren’t so keen on running 26.2 miles or going to the gym every day.
Gardening is regarded as moderate to strenuous exercise, depending on the activity involved and how we do it. As with most forms of exercise, we’ll feel the benefit more if we do it for at least 30 minutes a day, a few days a week. The half-hour can be spread out over the whole day, but researchers say each session should be a minimum of eight minutes.
Here are some of the areas of the body that gardening works on.
Muscles – You know that gardening works the muscles because of how tired they feel afterwards! Legs, arms, shoulders, back, buttocks, neck, core and stomach are all used while gardening. Muscle work is excellent for toning the body.
Bones and joints – Gardening can feel like yoga sometimes, with all the bending, twisting and stretching. This type of movement is good for increasing flexibility and balance, while resistance exercise such as lifting and carrying also strengthens bones and joints. Bones are further strengthened by getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D – just by being outdoors.
Heart – Because gardening is quite strenuous, it gets the heart pumping, boosting stamina, breathing and endurance. Your heart is being worked if you feel slightly out of breath.
Lungs – Breathing in fresh air is good for the lungs and boosts oxygen levels and vitality.
Maintaining a healthy weight – Over a 30-minute period, most of the main gardening activities burn 150 to 200 calories. Digging the garden and mowing the lawn are especially good – men can burn well over 200 calories if they mow the lawn for half an hour. Sadly, this doesn’t count if they’re using a sit-on mower!
So, there you have it – conclusive evidence that gardening really is a brilliant all-round exercise. A note of caution, though: Don’t over-do it. Bend and lift correctly, and although it’s natural to have aching limbs after gardening, you shouldn’t feel any pain. If you do, seek medical advice as a precaution.
This year, almost 400,000 people applied to take part in the London Marathon, and around 40,000 successful applicants will be lining up at the start of the event. If you’re one of them, have a fantastic time. Me? I’ll be outside, doing the gardening!