THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON RODALE’S ORGANIC LIFE.
The health benefits of gardening keep adding up.
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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.
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.