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If you’re like me and your knowledge of tended vegetation extends to a window box or a potted plant, you assume gardening is an unassertive sort of indulgence.
So when our fearless leader told us to write a blog post on gardening as an exercise, I smirked.
For how many calories can you really burn with taking a pot here, putting a little soil there, and sticking a seedling or two?
A lot, apparently, as I discovered to my sore but worked-out muscles.
If you don’t believe me, Calorie Count does a very good job of breaking it down for you.
- Digging of soil (340 calories/hour)
- Carrying of soil/wood (340 calories/hour)
- Clearing of the land (another 340 calories/hour or a burning away of that Grande Starbucks™ Caffe Latte - Made with whole milk)
- Pulling of the pesky weeds (306 calories/hour)
and so on and so forth.
If you are a novice like me, the experts advice to start with the simplest of objective - like making yourself a raised vegetable garden.
And that’s how I started off on my first foray into gardening. Creating a vegetable garden.
The first step involved some research into the various accoutrements needed for this project. A vegetable garden kit, soil, seeds, locating the optimal place to plant it, wheelbarrow, spade, trowel, gardening gloves, gardening kneeling pads for the knees (and believe me when I say you will need them). A simple Google search is what I employed to teach myself the basics. If you are stumped, HGTV and BHG, has great information about what to do and where to start.
I was now ready to set forth.
Our soil arrived bright and early in a truck that dumped vast quantities of it on the driveway. I hadn’t bargained for having to move the soil from the front to the backyard. But the early morning sun, the gorgeous Florida weather, the lovely smell of healthy soil, the idea of working with my hands – all added to general bonhomie that was in the air.
I assembled my gardening bed, selected my level spot in the backyard - raked the leaves, weeded, placed the bed, shoveled the soil on to the wheelbarrow, dumped it in to the garden bed and it was then, that the perkiness took a dive.
For what sedate researching does not inform you of is the working out that these simple actions give to your muscles. There is the squatting, lunging, bending, and the aerobics involved in pushing, walking and raking.
So much so that, researchers at Kansas State University determined that “gardening is a form of “moderate intensity” exercise that can easily contribute to the exercise recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week in order to maintain and improve optimal health”
I believe that. Mid way through my experience, I realized I definitely needed to have stretched before setting out on this venture. Never before, had I been involved a physical activity that has taxed and asked so much of so many different muscle groups in my body
In fact WebMD says gardening is an ideal workout that provides all three types of exercise - endurance, flexibility and strength. The article also goes on to enumerate tips I know I will incorporate in my next gardening adventure – stretch before you start, take deep breathes, alternate between the right and left hands, etc.
In addition to these great calorific benefits, gardening also affords its partakers a very tangible result. While other workouts reward their participants with a triumphant and sweaty haze, gardening, at the end of your labors, gives you the joy of looking at a small but tended patch of land, which with care, yields vegetables, fruits or flowers.
Also at some point, between the sweating and the sore muscles, the feeling of goodwill returned to my soul. How could it not? You are patting down the soil, using your trowel to make way for a little seedling, the smell of fresh soil envelopes you, a gentle breeze soothes your brow, and you cannot help but feel at one with your soul and nature.
Like Mirabel Osler said, “There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.”