After a busy day in the garden, it’s easy to feel like you’ve just spent hours at the gym. But is gardening exercise? Can I really count time gardening as equal to getting a workout at the gym?
I am arguing yes.
Gardening definitely has a place in your fitness routine.
With all the physical activity involved, there have to be a lot of calories burned by gardening. But how many? And what are some ways to get a garden workout so we can skip the gym?
Calories Burned By Gardening As Exercise
Let’s take a look at just how each of the following activities contributes to getting a good workout in the garden.
Raking leaves sculpts your arms and back
Did you know that raking leaves burns about 220 calories per hour? That’s not a ton of calories, but it does a lot to define muscles in your arms and back.
Plus building a pile of leaves is just as good for your garden as it is for your body. Leave the pile to decompose over a few months or add them to your compost pile. By spring, you’ll have healthy (and free!) mulch for your garden beds.
Shoveling builds muscle in arms and shoulders
Digging holes with a shovel can burn over 500 calories per hour! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of shoveling dirt, then I’m sure you’re not surprised.
Shoveling holes for new plantings or burying posts for a fence can be really hard work, but at least you get the pleasure of a prettier garden and knowing you you’ve gotten in a good gardening workout that day.
Pulling weeds is a whole body workout
You may not realize it, but squatting and bending to pull weeds burns about 230 calories per hour. Plus you’re getting a good workout in your legs and back. Grabbing and pulling weeds can improve your grip and tone your arms.
Even if you’re using standing weeding tools, you can still work up a good sweat getting rid of weeds in your garden.
Harvesting your produce helps you get in shape
When you have a bumper crop of produce, gathering all your veggies is quite the workout. Between bending over to pick them and carrying a basket loaded with veggies, you’re working lots of muscles in your arms and back.
I can’t think of a more rewarding exercise activity!
The combination of garden exercise is great for your body
When you’re working in the garden, you’re not just standing in one place repeating the same activity over and over. You’re turning the compost pile, you’re pushing a wheelbarrow, you’re pruning trees and dragging branches.
All of these activities combine together to strengthen and tone your muscles in a way that’s entertaining and keeps your body fit.
You can definitely get exercise by just doing garden work
Just like other physical activities, you need to be active for at least 30 minutes to really reap the benefits. But fortunately, there’s plenty of work to do in the garden to make gardening satisfy those New Year’s resolutions.
We all know that the key to losing weight is eating healthy, well-balanced meals throughout the day, and avoid living a sedentary lifestyle. As an avid gardener, I can tell you that growing a vegetable garden at home can serve two valuable requirements for weight loss.
The first being the organic healthy food you need for a well-balanced diet, and the second being a moderate amount of physical activity required for maintaining a successful garden.
Garden work burns a lot of calories
According to calorielab.com gardening is an excellent activity for burning calories.
- Digging, spading, filling garden, composting burns 272 calories per hour
- Planting seedlings, shrubs burns 228 calories per hour
- Raking leaves burns 224 calories per hour
- Picking up the yard, light yard work, picking flowers or vegetables burns 136 calories per hour
- Walking on a treadmill at 3.0 mph, a moderate speed, not carrying anything burns 156 calories per hour
- Bicycling, leisure, slower than 10 mph, to work or for pleasure burns 204 calories per hour
- Weight lifting, light or moderate effort, light workout burns 136 calories per hour
Of course, the larger the garden, the more work required. Cultivating the soil, picking weeds, watering, digging holes, and turning compost are all physically demanding and work your muscles.
Ways To Pump Up Your Garden Workout
👉 Pop a squat to grab and pull those weeds. Remaining in a squatting position while you work vs sitting or kneeling further works your leg and core muscles.
👉 If doing one activity for too long becomes uncomfortable, rotate between raking, mowing, weeding, pruning and digging every 15 minutes or so.
👉 Skip the power tools and opt for manual trimmers, loppers, and mowers whenever possible.
👉 Don’t be afraid to throw in a set of push-ups, sit-ups, or squats just to feel the burn.
Check out these (admittedly goofy) gardening workout videos for more ideas:
Learn more outdoor exercises you can do for free at FrugalEverything.com.
Learn how you can use essential oils to supplement your fitness goals at TheOrganicGoatLady.com.
So can growing tomatoes actually help you lose weight?
I do tend to lose some weight when the weather warms outside and I’m spending more time in the garden and less time inside hiding from the cold and wind.
I’m not going to promise that you can lose 30 pounds in 90 days by using gardening as exercise, but you can get some extra physical activity that you need to keep your body fit. Plus, keeping active and busy is a good way to prevent eating out of boredom!
And the best part is that all of the work you put into your vegetable garden will yield healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables to support your diet and nutrition goals.
I’d love to hear how you use gardening as exercise!
Share your tips in the comments below!