Modern life comes with many, often conflicting responsibilities that make us choose how to spend our – always scarce – spare time. But there are some pressures that with a little creativity can be eased using the old adage of ‘two birds, one stone’! If you are struggling to find time to put your health (mental and physical) first and keep on top of the domestic chores, gardening could be the answer.
Gardening, when done regularly, can help you lose weight and get fit and can be a truly rewarding and relaxing activity. 30-45 minutes in your garden can burn up to 300 calories. And your garden will look amazing, giving you the perfect view to enjoy afterwards. You also avoid the commute to the gym, and complicated work out videos; simple gardening is the perfect alternative to get a great and rewarding workout that you can tailor to your level.
A research conducted by nutritionists at Loughborough University found mowing, digging and planting for 2-3 hours a week could help burn off a pound, fantastic news if you are looking for something to build into your weight loss regime. Add to this that half an hour of weeding can burn up to 150 calories and those of you not watching the waistline have definitely earned a chocolate biscuit with that post-work-out cuppa!
It’s not just about weight loss; exercise helps lower blood pressure, improve mood and self-esteem but exercising outdoors also offers you fresh air and synergy with nature, increasing the positive result on mental wellbeing than exercise alone.
If you get really creative, your garden can unlock a wealth of activities worthy of any gym. Trade the treadmill for a lawnmower and exercise your upper and lower body. Perfect for the Autumn – work out your shoulders, back and pectorals by raking those fallen leaves up into the compost. Saves you a session on the rowing machine at the gym and it’s another one of those garden jobs off the list.
To keep your motivation up, the garden with its variety of jobs is perfect, you don’t have to commit hours to repetitive tasks, just do a little at a time and choose the ones you find the most rewarding. These days there are a wealth of lower maintenance products that you can incorporate into the garden to give you time to focus on the tasks you do enjoy and ensure you don’t get overwhelmed by the heavier, more time-consuming jobs.
Whilst it is true that getting their hands dirty is not for everyone, and people may worry more today about chemicals or pathogens in the garden; it is possible to garden without the use of chemicals, safeguarding your health and benefitting the environment and local wildlife. Healthy soil can hide a wealth of benefits, including the bacteria Mycobacterium-Vaccae which is being widely studied to understand the possible benefits it offers, but a recent study by the University of Bristol revealed it can have positive effects on mood.
Once you finished your workout, it’s time to stretch to reach those biscuits and hydrate with a well-deserved cuppa, sit back and congratulate yourself for forgoing the gym membership, admire your immaculate garden, and count down the days for BBQs in the sun (just to boost your vitamin D intake, of course!) Your immune system, bones, brain, heart and kidneys will definitely be grateful.
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