Reap the Benefits of Gardening

Burn Serious Calories and Prevent Cancer


— By The American Institute of Cancer Research


Bend, twist, reach, and pull.

While this may sound like an intensive aerobics class, these are actually movements you do while working in the garden. Researchers estimate that gardening burns an average of 300 calories per hour, while heavy yard work can burn more than 600 calories per hour! Engaging in regular physical activity like gardening is also an excellent way to lower your risk of some cancers.


Here’s the Dirt
Gardening is an ideal form of exercise because it combines three important types of physical activity: strength, endurance and flexibility.


Spending time in a garden is also believed by many to have physical and emotional healing effects. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, gardening can benefit people who are recovering from physical illness by retraining their muscles and improving coordination, balance, and strength. In addition, simply spending time in nature reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and relieves muscle tension.


But the cancer-protective benefits of gardening don’t end there. Studies show that gardeners eat a wider variety of vegetables (rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals), and have a higher overall intake of vegetables than non-gardeners.


The Old-Fashioned Way Is Better
To reap the maximum health benefit from your gardening, labor intensively. Turn off your leaf blower and pick up a rake. Use manual clippers, trimmers and lawnmowers if possible.


Try to stick to a regular “garden exercise” routine. Rather than saving up your outdoor work for one marathon weekend session, schedule at least 30-60 minutes of gardening two or three times per week. If you’re away from home during the day, early mornings and evenings are ideal  gardening times.


Work at a steady, constant speed, but be sure to change positions every 10 minutes or so to avoid overusing a particular muscle group. If you start by bending down to pull weeds, stand to prune the hedges next. Also alternate which side of the body you use. Pull with your right hand, then with your left.


gardening couple
Find a Row to Hoe
Even if you don’t own an acre, a small yard can provide ample opportunity to dig, plant, and weed. You can also look for a local garden on the American Community Garden Association’s website. Although your workout will be more limited if you garden on a balcony or patio, you can harvest a good crop of nutritious vegetables in a space as small as 16 square feet.



After your physician gives you the “green thumbs up,” keep these tips in mind:

  • To prevent muscle soreness, back pain, and repetitive strain injuries, warm up before starting and cool down after you are finished by walking and stretching.
  • Use steady, smooth motions to avoid injury.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if the temperature and humidity are high.
  • When picking up tools or lifting bags of soil, bend your knees and keep your back straight.


Note: Aquaponics and Earth does special training on how to start a garden in your back yard that has very little space that is very easy to start and maintain both young and old.


You would be surprised at how little space you need. Or if you want more space we can show you how to properly lay out your garden. We will come on a offering basis and the proceeds will go to our current Orphanage projects. Just e-mail us  fall planting  is starting now in Texas.


Happy Gardening!


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

August 25, 2009 at 10:08 AM

Thanks for the tips!

August 25, 2009 at 11:08 AM

This is awesome! No more need to pay for a gym!

August 25, 2009 at 11:08 AM

My garden isn’t doing so good. Not doing enough “Bend, twist, reach, and pull”.

August 25, 2009 at 12:08 PM
– In reply to: Aaron

This year I have heard this a lot. This is why I like the Lasagna garden covered with mulch. In one 12 x 12 areas we grew about 45 quarts of tomatoes plus everything else we wanted with some other vegetables. After the summer harvest, new flowers are coming out for a second major harvest until fall. The Lasagna method keeps things from drying out when you apply mulch on top.

August 25, 2009 at 04:08 PM

You convinced me. I am going to start gardening again. Maybe I will get a green thumb. Instead of paying for a fitness studio, I can save money while getting lots of fresh air, get free exercise and be growing my own HEALTHY food. Then I get to enjoy harvesting it fresh from the garden into the pot. How was that, “Bend, twist, reach, and pull.” And the American Institute of Cancer Research says I will reduce my risk of cancer! Wow!

August 25, 2009 at 09:08 PM

WOW, this is truly AWESOME! Reminds me of what our HEALTHIER forefathers did and they used to live a healthier lifestyle.

August 25, 2009 at 09:08 PM

I agree with Aaron. “Bend, twist, reach, and pulling” takes a larger garden. But the benefits sure are there!

August 25, 2009 at 10:08 PM

One thing I can tell, I love green, and I have to work little more in my garden this coming year.

Una cosa digo esto es sensacional; buen trabajo.

August 27, 2009 at 01:08 PM

I really would never have though of gardening as a form of exercise. Good to know 🙂

August 27, 2009 at 03:08 PM

Thank you, your website has been very informative and extremely helpful.

August 28, 2009 at 03:08 PM

Never thought of gardening as a workout. This inspires me to to gardan more… here i never think i have the time…. So now i think im going to garden instead of wasting my money on a gym. this is great…

May 04, 2012 at 07:05 AM

Great article! My grandma used to do a lot of tending to her plants and says it’s a stress reliever too.

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