Grow Your Own, Guest Posts

gardening health

Gardening isn’t just about improving the environment around you and growing plants to be proud of. It also benefits you in numerous ways that you might not have thought of, from your mental wellbeing to your immune system.

This post, courtesy of outdoor fitness specialists Start Fitness, will run through the ways in which green-fingered living can improve your fitness and overall health, often without you even realising you’re doing exercise!

A blooming garden is a stress-buster

Experts agree that gardening is good for your mental health, which has led the NHS to prescribe horticultural therapy for patients. The subtle combination of gentle, concentrated activity and the self-esteem boost you get from successfully planting and nurturing vegetables or flowers means a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol, making you more relaxed and able to sleep better at night.

After the actual physical activity is over, you’ll be able to relax in your garden, satisfied in the knowledge that your beautiful surroundings are all your own work!

Cut the risk of heart attacks

Small amounts of exercise throughout the day can improve your health to a large extent, and gardening offers exactly that. Even half an hour of gardening a day can give you a useful amount of exercise that reduces the risk of cardiac problems, as well as providing you with your daily amount of Vitamin D, which helps allay the onset of conditions such as osteoporosis.

If you’re an outdoorsy type that dislikes the monotony of a gym treadmill workout or the intensity of a spin class, the gentle, environmentally attuned rhythm of a half hour spent gardening could be for you. There are no personal bests to hit, no need to push yourself through a pain barrier – just the satisfying end goal of growing some beautiful flowers or tasty home produce.

Calorie burner

You’ll be surprised by the number of calories you burn while tending to your plants. Effort-intensive exercise like digging and weeding are obvious calorie burners – an hour of weeding and garden clearance can burn up to 400 calories – but even more sedate activities like planting and watering can burn between 120 and 400 calories per hour.

So, your well-earned cup of tea after a morning’s gardening is exactly that – a few hours spent perfecting your pride and joy burns easily as many calories as your average gym workout, in a much more relaxed atmosphere.

Healthy harvest

There’s nothing quite like home-grown food. From a small bag of seeds to an impressive harvest that can form the backbone for many healthy meals, the effort you put into your home-grown veggies is rewarded once you dig them out of the ground.

Combining a healthy activity like gardening with a garden-based diet doubles up on holistic lifestyle benefits. We’re not saying that you should live exactly like Tom & Barbara from The Good Life, but a few home-grown veggies can reduce shopping bills and increase your self-esteem all in one!

It’s not just the food that improves your health. Most soil contains a ‘good’ bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, which has been found to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis and asthma, boosting your immune system in the process. This means the time you spend on your hands and knees planting veg can help your defences against infection – a useful bonus that isn’t often thought about.

benefits of gardening

We hope this post has inspired you to take an active interest in your garden and use it as a way to keep well. The healthier the garden, the healthier you’ll be, so what are you waiting for?

Alex Jones is a features writer for Start Fitness – providers of running, cycling, gym, football and outdoor products.

Gardening, Gardens, Jenny

gardening fitness routine

Get fit and feel great from my head to-ma-toes

You could pay a small fortune in the gym with a personal trainer trying to develop your core, leg, back, shoulder and arm muscle groups… or you could get up and shovel something. No, really! Shovelling is a high intensity workout where, depending on your pace and stamina, you can burn up to 250 calories per 30 minutes of work. You can burn even more calories than that in lower temperatures as your body works harder to keep warm. The weeks between January and early spring is the best time of year to get the garden ready for new growth so get out and get shovelling! We have a great range of luxury tools to get you started.

Shovelling isn’t the only garden workout: weeding can burn up to 150 calories for 30 minutes of work. As well as being a great calorific workout, gardening helps you reawaken old muscles as you get your body bending and moving in new ways. From squats to lifts, gardening encourages you to give the whole of your body an effective workout.

Shovelling is great cardio and works a vast range of muscle groups so don’t forget to get ready. Like any exercise it’s important to warm up, so start with light gardening first and most importantly, don’t get too cold! If you get too cold your muscles will tighten up and you put yourself at risk of injury. Layer up and be responsible. Listen to your body when you think enough is enough. To give yourself the best chance possible of staying out in the cold while keeping warm you can use heated insoles, socks, gloves, gilets and so much more.

yoga in garden

Mind your back! With safety in mind do try to reduce the risk of strain with clever tools to help you lift bulky loads. Keep pathways clear and accessible to avoid sudden twists or strain while you move. Most importantly, lift with your legs and keep your back straight.

If you don’t do much gardening and the excuse is always that you simply don’t have room in the house for working out, why not invest in an extra room? No, not an expensive house extension, a garden room. Summerhouses are ideal spaces to adapt to your needs, whether personal gym, yoga studio or home office, a summerhouse gives you almost all the benefits of a house extension at only a fraction of the cost.

Working out in the garden isn’t just great for burning calories. With gardening you can expect to gain other great benefits such as decreased blood pressure and lower levels of cholesterol. Depending on the intensity and regularity of your gardening, over time you will strengthen joints, improve flexibility and even slow the onset of osteoporosis. Generally improving your fitness has a multitude of long term health benefits and doing so with gardening means you help out nature too! Building projects such as setting up water features and birdbaths are great physical activities with long term benefits for you and visiting wildlife.

There are a huge number of health benefits associated with exercising outside in this way. The psychological impact of growing a healthy crop of vegetables or seeing your garden full of beautiful blooms will give you a great sense of achievement. This kicks off the “feel good” reaction in the body where dopamine, well, makes us feel good! Hence the name. Dopamine has a range of health benefits including memory development and learning, decreases inflammation, improves sleep, and much more. Besides all that, you get tomatoes! Long-term, sustained cardio workouts (like the sort you’ll be getting in your garden) increase your levels of serotonin, which leaves you feeling happier and more sociable. There’s also a lot of research that shows just being outside can have a big impact on your mental health, leaving you less likely to feel symptoms of anxiety or depression.

gardening exercise

Jenny at PrimroseJenny works in the Primrose Product Loading team working on adding new and exciting products to the website. When she’s not writing, proofreading or drinking the strongest coffee possible Jenny loves to climb and can often be found halfway up a wall at the local climbing centre.

See all of Jenny’s posts.

Gardening, Guest Posts, Nicole

The gravel patch nowMy garden is my very own kind of therapy, my little refuge and my link to the outside world. I haven’t mentioned this before but I suffer from an anxiety disorder which really makes me struggle to get outside. Before I was bitten by the gardening bug I was quite literally housebound which no amount of encouragement from family or friends could change. The anxiety knowing no bounds prevented me from even taking a little walk to the shop at the top of our road or venturing to sit on my doorstep.

Now a few years later after being infected by this gardening bug I find myself often winning this battle of wills with my anxiety. It’s still a struggle at times but my garden has the uncanny ability of getting me outside and enjoying every moment.
The day the fuchia went in and the gardening bug bit
I still remember the day the bug hit; I was watching my hubby from the safety of the window laying heavy duty weed membrane down on our front part of the garden and laying stones on top of it. After slugging away at it for hours my husband came in for refreshments and we both stood looking out the window to the finished product below. We both agreed that the stones looked very bare and needed something to add character; my husband suggested a plant then he went up the town to buy one. He came back with a fuchsia and planted it on the top part of our new patch of gravel. Needless to say I thought it looked rather lonely so soon started scouring the net to buy more plants to keep it company.

On the day all the new plants arrived my husband was gobsmacked and set to work making holes in the membrane to put them in. I hovered at our door giving the occasional bit of advice until he got thoroughly fed up and told me to do it myself. Concerned about the welfare of our new green leaved investments I left the safety of the house ignoring as best I could the anxiety of going out and planted them up myself. Well I think you can guess what happened next; I enjoyed it so much that the rest is history.
Nicole in the garden
Nowadays I’m actually eager to get out into the garden, anxiety and all. My therapists are so impressed by the change that they have made a point of making my task so far to get out into the garden as often as I can. I cannot emphasise enough how big a difference gardening has made to my life; my children and my husband have reaped the rewards. I happily wander about taking photos of the plants we have and any wildlife I happen come across. I even benefit from the exercise that digging, weeding, planting etc. brings. My children and I embark on little gardening projects together and I’m sure they enjoy having their mum outside with them instead of watching from a window. My garden has helped me more than anything else I’ve tried and I’m looking forward to embarking on a new type of therapy when I’m brave enough: an allotment. But, until then, my garden will do.

Take care,
Nicole