Garden for Health: Get Your Daily Exercise in the Vegetable Patch

Garden for health by using a productive 30-minute routine to keep you and your vegetable patch fit.

| January/February 2011

  • Raking Leaves
    Raking leaves involves several muscle groups.
    iStockphoto.com/VMJones
  • Trimming Joy
    Flowers can bring joy and a reason to get outside.
    iStockphoto.com/Zhang Bo
  • Mowing for Exercise
    Mowing the grass with a push mower, even when it has a motor, can burn more calories. For an even better workout, use an ecofriendly motorless push mower.
    iStockphoto.com/togoshi
  • Cutting Lettuce
    Cutting lettuce for your salad can make for a great prelunch workout.
    iStockphoto.com/Michael DeLeon
  • Trimming the Bushes
    Trimming your shrubs burns as many calories as doing water aerobics.
    iStockphoto.com/Juanmonino
  • Planting Seedlings
    Making your yard beautiful also has mental health benefits.
    iStockphoto.com/René Mansi
  • Planting Roses
    You expend the same amount of energy planting flowers as you do on a leisurely bike ride.
    iStockphoto.com/Chris Price

  • Raking Leaves
  • Trimming Joy
  • Mowing for Exercise
  • Cutting Lettuce
  • Trimming the Bushes
  • Planting Seedlings
  • Planting Roses

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on gym memberships – most of which are underused. The same people also spend billions of dollars on their gardens and lawns – many of which remain neglected. But did you know that you can garden for health and reduce your food costs while giving yourself a well-rounded workout that offers the health benefits of virtually any for-pay workout? 

Indeed, gardening is the world’s best-kept exercise secret. It’s like going to the gym for free while beautifying your yard and producing good things to eat. Gardening gives you a great all-around workout, hitting all the major muscle groups – muscles that burn the most calories, says Jeff Restuccio, author of Fitness the Dynamic Gardening Way. 

Even more, gardening increases flexibility and strengthens joints. A mere 30 minutes of daily gardening can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, prevent diabetes and heart disease, and prevent or slow osteoporosis. 

Studies show that if you enjoy an exercise activity, you’re more likely to stick with the program. Without spending additional dollars or hours, you can have a lovely landscape while maintaining a healthy body. Gardening for 45 minutes burns as many calories as 30 minutes of aerobics. To help you shape up, lose weight and rake with more enthusiasm, here are examples of how different gardening chores compare to typical fitness activities. 



A half-hour of digging and shoveling burns 198 calories, equivalent to riding a stationary bicycle for the same amount of time. That knocks out a slice of pepperoni pizza. 

You’ll need to spend 30 minutes lifting weights to equal the 85 calories burned in only 15 minutes of trimming shrubs. That squishes away four marshmallows. 






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