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Does gardening really count as exercise?

| Karen Mann

If you are someone who enjoys gardening, you’ve probably spent many hours reading and researching about how to produce a healthier, more beautiful garden. But have you ever thought about how gardening can produce a healthier you?

This March, The Parklands is looking for volunteers to support our garden areas, and there is really nothing like the joy of gardening. You get to connect with nature, experience the pride of growing your own plants, flowers and food and, of course, there are amazing health benefits.

Volunteering is a fantastic way to engage oneself at The Parklands. Not only will you gain practical, hands-on experience, learn interesting horticulture facts and meet folks with similar interests, but it is also an opportunity to achieve a great workout for both mind and body.

Gardening is a great alternative to traditional exercise because it incorporates many of the same elements of a moderate to intense fitness routine. Stretching, pushing, pulling and lifting incorporate multiple muscles at one time and improve the quality of your overall fitness level. Elements of gardening such as digging, weeding, trimming shrubs and mowing the lawn require the same energy as other physical exercise activities such as walking, cycling, swimming and aerobics.

This report from the CDC states that moderate amounts of activity, including 30-45 minutes of gardening most days of the week, reduce the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illnesses in the U.S., including high blood pressure and diabetes. It also contributes to healthier bones, muscles and joints. Without a doubt, like exercise, what gardening does for the mind and soul is at least as important as what it does for the body.

Here are seven ways gardening is good for your mind and body.

1. It gets you moving.

Moving in an enjoyable way is a great strategy for staying healthy, especially for those who are attached to their desks most of the week. Gardening forces you to get outside and dig around in the dirt!

2. It sparks creativity.

The fresh air, focusing on tending your garden and unplugging from technology all open the door for more creativity. Gardening helps you connect with the earth, your body, mind and spirit, which allows space for creative thoughts to flow.                                                                                                                                    

3. It reduces stress by helping you relax.

It’s difficult to find time to relax and escape from the pressures of life. As you step into the garden, the peace and calm of nature washes over you and helps reduce stress while the physical exertion of gardening helps lower blood pressure. I know I feel stress melting away as soon as I start digging.

4. It improves flexibility, balance and sensory perception.

Gardening helps improve balance, flexibility and sharpen your senses. The movements, the sights and smells are all part of the healthy benefits while you tend your patch of paradise.

5. It boosts feel-good hormones.

Gardening is a form of exercise, and exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good. These endorphins help us manifest a more positive outlook on life and that good feeling stays with us long after the gardening is done.

6. It cultivates a healthier heart.

Since gardening is a physical activity, it naturally helps strengthen the heart, build endurance and increase stamina.

7. It's an opportunity to give back to the community.

As Gardening Team Leader at The Parklands, I can tell you getting outside and enjoying our beautiful park keeps me sane and is beneficial physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Take a few moments to unplug from life’s stressors and connect to Mother Nature. Working in the garden is a great way to enjoy nature and a healthy, rewarding activity that most anyone can participate in. When done regularly you’ll not only yield a beautiful, healthy garden, but a healthier you. So as the gardening season approaches, consider your gardening time as an opportunity to create a healthier garden and a healthier you!

To find out more about opportunities to volunteer in the gardens at The Parklands, join us at 6:00 PM on March 9, for a Zone Garden Volunteer Orientation meeting. We will meet at the PNC Achievement Center to discuss ways to volunteer at the park while improving your health! If you plan to join, please RSVP to Ali Greenwell at agreenwell@21cparks.org.

 

More Volunteer Opportunities

About the Author

Picture of Karen Mann

Karen Mann

Karen has worked at the Parklands of Floyds Fork in many capacities. Originally hired as an Attendant in 2013, she has also worked in the PNC Achievement Center at the front desk and The Gheens Foundation Lodge as an Event Concierge. As of September 1, 2014 she has taken on the position as Head Zone Gardener. Karen is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor degree in Technical Horticulture and a minor in Floriculture. For the past fifteen years she has been actively involved in providing a hands-on atmosphere for her husband and three children. During this time she maintained a successful, profitable small business as a lawn maintenance contractor as well as a private residential gardener. Along with a passion to make a difference, Karen shares the same enthusiasm as her colleagues, as they continue to contribute to the growth and progress of The Parklands of Floyds Fork. When not at the Parklands, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, pets and just being in the outdoors.

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