If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.
As the weather gets warmer, getting back in shape can be easier with lots of fun outdoor activities from which to choose—whether walking, biking, swimming, or golf. Many common summer ‘chores’ also can be great for your health— from mowing the lawn to raking, cleaning house, washing your car, and even gardening.
“Many of us know that gardening can help you relax and lower your stress hormones by getting you out in the fresh air and away from technology,” says Karen Kansler, MA, RN, nurse wellness coordinator in the Good Health Center at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital. “You’re ‘off the grid’ and able to smell and feel the earth.”
She adds, “Gardening also is considered a moderate cardiovascular exercise, burning between 150 and 300 calories per hour. This is especially true if you’re weeding, digging or planting—activities that take more energy than watering flowers. To get the best workout, you should switch sides when using your hands so you aren’t just getting exercise on one side of your body.
“It’s a great way to get moving, plus it helps with your flexibility, your balance and your sensory perception,” Kansler explains. “As you bend your knees, you’re exercising your quads and glutes (your thigh and buttock muscles).”
Kansler notes that—as with most activities—it’s good to take the proper precautions. “Don’t overdo it and make sure you stretch before, during and after your activity, especially early in the season. Also, be sure to wear sunscreen and protect your knees. If you have arthritis, gardening can be good for your hands, but there are also many adaptive tools, such as stools on wheels, etc., for those with limited flexibility. Just remember to balance rest with periods of activity. Please don’t garden for a two- to three-hour stretch without a break.”
An added health benefit of gardening is enjoying the fruits and vegetables you planted. For people in urban areas or those who can’t kneel down to garden, containers can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and ‘reap’ the other rewards you’ve ‘sown’.
How Many Calories Are You Burning?Here's an approximate count of the calories you can burn:
|Gardening||1 hr.||150 to 300|
|Washing/drying the car||1 hr.||330|
|Leisurely biking||1 hr.||280|
|Cleaning house||1 hr.||330|
This article appeared in the summer 2016 issue of Good Health. Read more articles from this issue.
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