The Garden Workout
Gardening brings us a benefit, well actually two benefits, quite apart from the beauty of the plants we grow, the vegetables we enjoy or the herbs that season our meals. I am not talking about curb appeal either.
All these and so much more come from spending your time gardening but perhaps the most long lasting and least considered benefits are those that com from the act of gardening itself. The mental and physical exercise you get when you garden.
The mental exercise takes two forms. The first one is the getting away from it all, leave all your cares behind and get lost in the garden: when I am working in my garden, the world slows down and the rush and worry that is all too often a regular part of life goes away.
It feels as though I have stepped out of time and am reconnecting with something more ancient, more primal than the asphalt, concrete and electronic world that devours so much of our attention and our time.
This is a release and clears the mind so that when it is time to return to other business, I am calm and focused.
The second mental exercise is the planning and decision part of gardening which usually takes place during the winter months as I look at seed catalogues, pictures of last year's garden, images of plants that interest me and otherwise conjure up images of what my garden will look like next year.
This exercise will, in time, turn into a plan on paper that will serve as a guide when spring comes.
This work exercises the imagination and creative aspects and allows me to consider what could be.
Not only, is this an enjoyable way to invest my time in the long, dark winter months but it energizes me and enables my work to grow.
No need to diet, just get out and garden.
rose on deck
When it comes to the physical exercise that gardening entails, I must admit that I do not enjoy hard work all that much, I love spending time in the garden, deadheading when necessary, weeding, if I must, harvesting flowers and vegetables when it is time; these are all delightful chores that do burn off a few calories and, and this is perhaps, the most important point, keep me outdoors.
I have developed a small personal fitness program that takes place in the garden and involves the basic chores of property upkeep; tending the garden and caring for the lawn.
The program is simple; it involves cutting the lawn, raking the lawn and some weeding; there is really nothing to it, simply use hand tools rather than power tools and you will get exercise.
For example, to cut the lawn which I do every two weeks, I use a hand mower; the only power that pushes it is me. This chore takes about 45 minutes and I can work up a good sweat, especially on a hot summer day.
I have come to enjoy this activity and look forward to the time I spend mowing the lawn. In winter, shoveling the snow will replace it but this will be a more regular event. But I do not want to think about snow now.
I have a wheelbarrow which is ideal for moving soil, tools, containers and so on around the garden; you bend and life it which adds to the workout.
One of the tools, that I use the most is a hoe; you can accomplish a lot with a good hoe. It is a great weeding tool; can break soil just enough to plant a row of seeds, is great for mixing compost and other organic material into the garden bed and for breaking up sod. I often use my hoe rather than a shovel for small jobs, such as starting holes. I do not dig much so have only occasional use for the shovel.
The other lawn care tool that I use mostly in the spring and fall is a hand aerator to aerate the lawn. I only do the front yard, simply because the back is too big and is more work that I am willing to do. I aerate the lawn to break up the soil and counteract the compaction that takes place as we walk on it.
Raking the lawn is another great exercise; I do it after every second mowing and in the fall, the leaves that fall off the big maple, not only provide fodder for my composter and mulch but exercise.
In the spring, I spend about 3 days, an hour each day aerating and do the same in the fall.
If you add, planting seeds, seedlings, and pruning and so on the calories used in the garden will grow.
You will not build much muscle but you will burn off calories which should be the principal goal of any weight loss program.
Gardening keeps us sharp mentally, keeps us in touch with the outside world and nature and helps us stay in good mental and physical shape; all that and your vegetables too, a very good deal.
- Dethatching and Aerating Lawns
Thatch buildup and soil compaction are both conditions that can cause lawns to struggle.