THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON RODALE’S ORGANIC LIFE

The health benefits of gardening keep adding up.

Studies show that gardening reduces stress and anxiety, decreases your risk of diabetes, and keeps your mind sharp. (Read more about the suprising ways gardening improves your health). There’s even evidence that gardeners are happier than other people.

It turns out that gardening is also great way to stay fit. The CDC recommends 2½ hours of gardening a week as a way to stay physically active and healthy. And one South Korean study, published in the journal HortTechnology, found that some gardening tasks qualify as moderate- to high-intensity activities—in other words, gardening is a great way to exercise.

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DIGGING

Digging and spading deliver resistance training minus the trip to the gym. According to Sherry Rindels, at Iowa State University’s Department of Horticulture, digging “improves muscle strength and endurance as well because a great deal of resistance is involved.” You’ll burn calories while working the soil—in 30 minutes of digging, women burn 150 calories, men 197. (That’s more than running a mile—a 150-pound woman running 1 mile in 10-minutes will burn roughly 113 calories.) Digging involves muscles in the upper body, back, and legs. Switch hands every five minutes to give each side of your body a good workout.

Related: Our Top 10 Tools For Working The Soil 

MULCHING

Mulching is one of the best time-saving measures a gardener can take. (Here’s what every gardener should know about mulching). Whether you have a vegetable garden or a flower bed,  mulched gardens are healthier, have fewer weeds, and are more drought-resistant than unmulched gardens, and it allows you to spend less time watering. It also provides an opportunity to lift weights sans barbells. Remember, don’t lift with your back, but with your legs, and bend your knees.

MOWING THE LAWN

Mowing the grass around your garden can deliver physical benefits. You’ll get the highest-intensity workout with a push reel mower.

Modern push-reel mowers are far more efficient and powerful than old-school versions: two high-performing mowers to consider are the Scotts 200-20 Classic Push Reel Mower ($110) and Fiskars 18 Inch Staysharp Max Reel Mower ($200) 

Whichever one you choose, thirty minutes burns 181 calories for women, 236 for men.

 

 

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