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Emmet County Wellness Coalition – Wellness through gardening

By Staff | May 16, 2014

Now that the weather is starting to act more like spring, it’s time to start thinking about gardening. Gardening is a great way to not only enjoy some fresh air, but to get some exercise and increase your physical activity.

Gardening activities, such as pulling weeds, removing rocks, digging, planting, spreading compost, cultivating, trimming trees and shrubs, and raking requires you to expend energy (burn calories). A 150 pound person can burn 200-250 kcal while digging/pulling weeds and removing rocks for thirty minutes. Spading, lifting, tilling, and raking can improve muscle tone and strength. As with any kind of exercise, it’s a good idea to warm up and stretch before you start.

For your comfort, safety, and for the good of your back and knees, keep these tips in mind:

n If you spend time on your knees, use a cushion. Keep your back straight and don’t sit on your heels. Stand up and stretch your legs every 10 minutes or so.

n Use a lightweight, long-handled shovel or spade, and don’t overload it. Bend at the knee and step forward as you raise and sump each shovel of soil.

n Bend at the knees and hips when picking up tools.

You may think of gardening as a fun activity or a way to grow food for your family or enjoy the blooming flowers. While this is true, gardening is also a good way to get physical activity. Physical activity can help strengthen bones and joints, lower blood pressure, and help manage stress. Additionally, gardening and yard care are beneficial for your mental health, too. Just think of the relaxation you experience when working in the garden.