Is gardening good exercise? Find out how many calories you burn, which muscles get used, and why it’s okay to count gardening as exercise!
I’m Chantal – a NASM-certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, and the writer behind this site.
You may be wondering what an article about gardening is doing on a fitness site, but let me explain.
While I’m big into fitness and I love a good workout, my personal health philosophy is a bit different than what you might get with other fitness bloggers.
Not only am I an avid gardener, but I believe that fitness starts with nutrition.
Along with that, I also believe that growing some of your own food is a powerful way to take control of your own nutrition.
Homegrown, organic food is an amazing thing!
To go even further, I believe that the ideas behind homesteading, backyard farming, and vegetable gardening go hand-in-hand with strong nutrition and fitness.
That philosophy is what led me to want to write this post about gardening as exercise.
If you’ve been gardening very long, you already know that gardening can be really good exercise.
But if you’re new to exercise OR gardening, it can seem like a stretch.
How can gardening possibly be enough? (You will soon find out!)
I was lucky enough to have found gardening as exercise at a young age because my grandfather was an avid gardener.
My aunt was also a garden addict, and both of them taught me all about having fun outside in the yard.
But can gardening really be good exercise?
I’m happy to share my thoughts on the matter!
Is Gardening Good Exercise?
Gardening is more than just a hobby or a way to beautify your outdoor space; it’s also a form of physical activity that offers numerous health benefits.
It can also be a great way to reintroduce movement after a long period of inactivity.
While it may not always replace a rigorous workout at the gym, gardening can contribute to your overall fitness and well-being in various ways.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the question, “Is gardening good exercise?” and delve into the surprising health benefits of tending to your garden.
Related Reading: 7 Ways Starting a Vegetable Garden Can Help You Lose Weight
Is Gardening Good Exercise? The Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening
1. Cardiovascular Fitness
Believe it or not, gardening can get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular health. Activities like digging, weeding, and raking can elevate your heart rate and help strengthen your heart.
These gardening tasks really can be a great workout!
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 30%, making it a valuable addition to your fitness routine.
2. Strength Training
Gardening requires the use of various major muscle groups, providing a full-body workout.
Activities such as lifting bags of soil, pushing a wheelbarrow, and digging holes can help build strength in your arms, shoulders, and core. Regular gardening can also improve your grip strength, which is essential for daily tasks.
See below for specific garden chores and which muscles they use!
3. Flexibility and Balance
Bending, stretching, and reaching while gardening can improve your flexibility and balance. These movements help maintain joint mobility and reduce the risk of injuries, particularly as we age.
Gardening activities like squatting to plant seeds or reaching overhead to trim branches can enhance your overall range of motion.
4. Stress Reduction
One of the lesser-known benefits of gardening is its ability to reduce stress and promote mental well-being.
Spending time outdoors, surrounded by nature, can lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress.
Gardening also provides a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and connection to the natural world, which can improve your overall mood and mental health.
You Might Also Like: How To Start Growing Vegetables From Seeds
5. Vitamin D Production
Sunlight exposure during gardening allows your body to produce vitamin D, a crucial nutrient for bone health and immune function. If your Vitamin D levels are often low, consider gardening to improve them!
Just remember to be mindful and protect your skin from excessive sun exposure to prevent sunburn and skin damage.
6. Calorie Burn
While gardening may not burn as many calories as high-intensity workouts, it can still contribute to calorie expenditure. Add it to your regular exercise program, and you’ll be unstoppable!
On average, an hour of gardening can burn around 200-400 calories, depending on the intensity of the activities involved.
Over time, this can help with weight management and improve overall fitness. Gardening really is a good form of exercise, and in my opinion, it’s totally underrated!
P.S. Did you know that I have meal-planning printables, a nutrition course, a high-protein cookbook, and more helpful tools in my shop? Check them out if you’re investing in your nutrition habits this year!
7. Connection to Nature
Gardening provides an opportunity to connect with the natural world, reducing stress and enhancing mental well-being.
This connection can be therapeutic and has been shown to boost mood, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increase feelings of happiness and relaxation.
Related Reading: What Is Rewilding? + 7 Easy Ways to Rewild
Gardening As Exercise: The Details
As you already learned, gardening is a physically demanding activity that engages various muscle groups throughout the body.
In my opinion, gardening is always a good idea!
Here’s a list of common gardening chores and the muscles they utilize:
Muscles Worked: Quadriceps (front thighs), hamstrings (back thighs), glutes (buttocks), lower back, and core muscles.
Muscles Worked: Upper and lower back, shoulders, arms, and core muscles.
Muscles Worked: Upper body muscles including shoulders, biceps, triceps, and chest, depending on the tools and planting method used.
Muscles Worked: Upper back, shoulders, biceps, and core muscles.
Muscles Worked: Similar to digging, it engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core muscles.
Lifting Bags of Soil or Mulch
Muscles Worked: Legs, including quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as the lower back, and core muscles.
Pushing a Wheelbarrow
Muscles Worked: Upper body, including shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps, along with leg muscles for pushing and stabilizing.
Pruning and Trimming
Muscles Worked: Arms (forearms, biceps, and triceps), shoulders, and core muscles for balance and stability.
Muscles Worked: While watering doesn’t involve heavy lifting, it requires repetitive arm movements that engage the biceps, triceps, and shoulders.
Squatting or Kneeling
Muscles Worked: Leg muscles, including quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles, as well as the core for stability.
Lifting Potted Plants
Muscles Worked: Arm and shoulder muscles, along with core muscles for balance.
Pushing or Pulling Garden Equipment (e.g., lawn mower)
Muscles Worked: Arms, shoulders, chest, back, and leg muscles for propulsion. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Does mowing the lawn count as exercise?” the answer is yes!
Lifting Heavy Rocks or Stones
Muscles Worked: A full-body workout involving leg muscles, core muscles, and upper body muscles.
Carrying Gardening Tools
Muscles Worked: Arms and shoulders, along with grip strength for carrying and holding tools.
Sweeping or Leaf Blowing
Muscles Worked: Arms, shoulders, back, and core muscles for stability and control.
Pretty cool, right?
Did you know there are so many mental and physical benefits to gardening?
It’s important to note that gardening provides a well-rounded workout, involving both strength training and aerobic exercise, depending on your specific tasks.
To prevent strain or injury, it’s advisable to warm up before gardening, take breaks, use proper lifting techniques, and incorporate stretching exercises to maintain flexibility.
Gardening can be an enjoyable and effective way to stay physically active and maintain overall fitness while tending to your outdoor space.
So, is gardening good exercise?
The answer is a resounding yes. Gardening offers a wide range of physical and mental health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, strength training, flexibility, stress reduction, and more.
While it may not replace a dedicated fitness regimen, incorporating gardening into your routine can complement your overall health and well-being.
So, grab your gardening gloves and get ready to reap the rewards of this fulfilling and physically beneficial pastime. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
Until next time,