gardening exercise

Is Gardening Really Exercise?

gardening exerciseGardening to me is a well-rounded activity that is an art and science. It is my favorite hobby and daily productive activity a well as an amazing source of relaxation; but is it really considered exercise?

I have a semi- annual discussion on this topic with my Mother in law of 82 years.

She says that her daily exercise is gardening. She works up quite a sweat to by dividing perennials, shoveling dirt, hauling sacks of soil, pulling weeds, trimming trees, and such; sometimes she spends her whole day outdoors. By the time she is through she is tired, sweaty and not a little sore, but the kind of sore you feel after a healthy work out that took your muscles a bit farther than last time.

So, obviously gardening can by a vigorous physical activity; to both physical and mental capacities this is very healthy when done regularly.

But my point is that the type of exercise we need these days must be done in a more deliberate and methodical manner. this way we are more fit to undertake the daily physical challenges that life brings our way and better enjoy such interests as gardening.

What I mean by this is that we must exercise in order to better perform such tasks as gardening.  We should practice physical fitness so that we can better twist, bend, lift, pull, trim and complete all the other movements that yard work demands. What is needed is a Plan for Garden Training that can be followed whether we are 22 or 82.

Gardening is the ultimate goal, the season, the playoffs. In the off season it is still important to maintain that physical condition and preparation. In the same way as you would train for a sport, you must include the following 3 Basic Exercise Categories.  Altogether, you end up with a training program that is both fun and effective.

Gardening with the Three Basic Exercise Categories:


In order to prepare for long days of physical activity go for long walks, bike rides or swimming. Practice each of these activities for thirty minutes a day, although a full hour would be much better.

Be sure that your heart rate is elevated and should be at around 70% of your maximum capacity, in other words you feel your physical effort at 7.5 out of your full 10. Talking should be interrupted by a couple breaths a sentence but mostly unaffected.

This routine should be repeated a few times a week (3 -5), for a few months before gardening season kicks off.

Range of Motion

Avoid any injuries from twisting, lifting or bending by keeping the joints and movables of your body, such as the spine, hips, knees shoulders and neck, moving freely and regularly as they should.

Exercises like yoga or Pilates are highly recommended, these have dynamic drills that address structural alignment and strengthening of supporting muscles. They also keep the body’s joints moving freely.

These activities should be regularly practiced all year round as they are very healthy and can keep your body in pique physical condition. Practiced before beginning a session of gardening they can help you to stretch and warm up.


Keeping a strong muscular frame will help you to easily breeze through your work shoveling and plucking out perennials, without strain or exhaustion. You will not feel the aching of tired muscles upon completion, either. This can be done by weight lifting or lifting your own body as weight resistance is an excellent way to condition your body for the task at hand.

Strength training provides the best results when done two or three times in a week. To prepare for the gardening season begin a couple months before the season begins.

As for my Mah-in-Lah, she spends a solid hour everyday walking her dog and regularly practices Yoga in the off season, she is more than prepared for many more years in her lovely garden. Be sure to consult with a professional fitness instructor before beginning any fitness routines.