By Kris Rich, NBC-HWC, CPT, CET
This time of year, the yardwork seems never-ending. The grass is growing faster than we can keep up with, the garden needs weeding, plus—all those flower pots aren’t going to plant themselves. You may find yourself skipping the gym or exercise in order to keep up on the yardwork. The good news? All that mowing and trimming is actually a pretty great workout by itself. Read on to find out how yardwork benefits your overall fitness.
Increased heart rate. All that lifting and bending and stooping and standing up again—it really gets your heart rate up. Yardwork is a great way to get some cardiovascular exercise, increasing the oxygen flow to the heart while reducing blood pressure. Just make sure to keep a water bottle handy to stay hydrated.
Total body workout. When it comes to yardwork, every day is leg day—and arm day, and back day and so on. Working in the yard involves moving your entire body rather than just working one or two muscles at a time, which helps develop your entire body’s strength and overall fitness.
Improves mental health. Being one with nature, breathing fresh air and spending time by yourself are all great ways to improve your mental health, reduce stress and create a sense of calm and peace. Aside from that, you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you look back at your beautiful yard and all the results of your hard work on yardwork.
Hand strength and dexterity. As we age, diminishing dexterity and strength in our hands can begin to limit the range of activities we’re able to do. Yardwork and gardening helps to keep the hand muscles strong and agile. Be sure to alternate using your right and left hands to balance your body. Using your non-dominate hand is a great way to give your brain a good workout as well.
Improved core strength. Your core is made up of all the muscles in your midsection including the front, back and sides. This muscle group is responsible for stabilizing your entire body, and it gets a great workout during activities like yardwork. Between balancing, twisting back and forth and getting up off the ground—you use and strengthen those core muscles a lot more than you think.
Don’t feel bummed if you weren’t able to get to the gym or didn’t have time for that run because you spent all day in the yard. Think of all that yardwork as a good way to add variety to your physical activity routine and change things up. Not only will you feel that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when the work is done, you’ll also reap the benefits that come from being active—gym or not.
About the author: Kristina Rich, NBC-NWC, CPT, CET is a nationally-certified health and wellness coach at Priority Health. She works with members to help them develop a personalized plan for their own health and wellbeing based on what is realistic and beneficial. Kristina is also a certified personal trainer and cancer exercise trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine.