Having a hard time choosing between caring for your summer garden and time in the gym? Why not combine them? Gardening is the original functional exercise, burning 200 to 400 calories per hour (even more if you add in heavy landscaping work). Celebrate National Gardening for Exercise Day on June 6th by leveling up your gardening workout with functional squats, interval style bursts of cardio, and stretches to take the ache out of your backside. Your garden (and you) will be in top shape.
You’ll also enjoy the mood boosting benefits of an outdoor workout… and maybe even a little bonding time with your favorite friend or family member.
Gardening for Exercise
- The workout: While you don’t technically need a partner, this workout is even more fun as a friendly competition. Turning gardening into a healthy workout requires paying attention to your form to balance out movements we do every day. Challenge your brain and body by switching the hand or foot you use first. This will give you more balanced strength and better range of movement.
- Shovel Squats: As a warm up for your hips, back, and legs, bodyweight squats (with a shovel for balance) will get your body ready for the demands of gardening. Warm up with three rounds of ten squats, working to a greater depth as your hips and knees get warm. Ready for a challenge? Step up to overhead squats, holding the shovel with both hands over your head. Focus on keeping your chest up, core engaged, and knees out.
- Walking Lunges: Once you’ve warmed up with Shovel Squats, Walking Lunges will train your balance and proprioception (sense of where your body is in space) to prepare you for the twisting and reaching gardening involves. Holding a seed tray or potted plant in front of your chest with both hands as you lunge them out to your garden site will encourage an upright posture and add a bit of resistance to the movement. Be sure you alternate which leg steps forward. If you’re partnering up, make it a relay. Start each team or partner with an even number of potted items, garden tools, or seedlings. Lunge out and sprint back. The one who lunges all their seedlings to the garden site first wins the round!
- AMWAP (As Many Weeds As Possible): Once your seedlings and tools are in the garden, you’re going to need a clear space to plant. Whether you work solo or with a partner, set a timer for 5 minutes on your phone and challenge yourself to pull the most weeds. Don’t be afraid to sprint and crawl. You’ll get a cardiovascular challenge and train your upper back, core, and grip strength. Three rounds will make a big difference on your landscape, especially if you team up.
- Wheelbarrows for Time: Once you’ve pulled those weeds, you’re going to need to get them out of there. Load up the wheelbarrow and take turns sprinting to the compost pile. If partnering up, use a stopwatch on your phone to determine your score.
- Planks: Add plank holds in between your time spent crouching to pull weeds and plant seedlings to engage your core stabilizers and prevent low back pain. Planks can be done on your knees if you have difficulty keeping your hips low and core engaged in a full plank. Try forearm planks with your fingers spread and palms towards the ground to alleviate the wrist compression that can come from working with a shovel or trowel.
Watering Can Farmer Carry: Once your plants are in the ground, they’ll need water. This modification of a Kettle Bell Carry works your whole body. Alternate the hand in which you carry the watering can to work your entire body. The instability of the water in the can will engage more of your core. You can also hold the watering can in front of your chest for more upper body training. Add Watering Can Farmer Carry’s into your gardening workout by walking to and from the hose or just to the end of your yard in between weeding or planting.
- Animal Exercises: When you’re gardening with children (or just feeling playful), animal exercises are fun bodyweight exercises that work well in a garden setting. From Bear Crawls to Crab Walks (more ideas here), taking animal exercise breaks will make your chores feel like play and help to balance out gardening movements that tend to overuse one side of the body.
Celebrate Gardening Exercise Day! Once you’ve finished your cardio and strength workout, enjoy the fruits of your labor with a well-deserved stretch in the shade. Simple yoga stretching outdoors is a great way to celebrate the end of your Gardening Exercise Day. Share your pictures on social media with the official #GardeningExerciseDay.