What are the hidden health benefits of gardening?

New research reveals how gardening can help improve your mental and physical health, as well as showing which outdoor tasks burn the most calories. 

New data from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor documents the surprising ways people are able to burn calories every day without realising. One of the highest everyday calorie burning activities discovered was gardening. 

Three ways you can burn calories gardening

Gardening is a great way to burn calories, get outside, and enjoy more sun exposure. Generally considered manual labour, gardening has often been regarded as an intense activity, depending on the task. 

Let’s look at the gardening tasks that burn the most calories.

1) Mowing the lawn

No access to a pool? No worries. If you have a garden, mowing the lawn for an hour may burn more calories than an hour of swimming breaststroke.

Personal trainer, Lauren Knott, says: “If you want to work out your legs while you mow, add walking lunges to your activity to target your glutes and quads.” 

On average, women burn 415 calories per hour while mowing the lawn. 

2) Moderate gardening

Non-specific activities in the garden can burn more calories than expected. Gardening might include pruning, repotting, strimming or planting. Light gardening is also beneficial for back pain, as it can help loosen the muscles.

Personal trainer, Lauren Knott, says: “To turn pottering around the garden into a workout, use gardening equipment as weights and add some bicep curls. You can do this simple exercise with a light to moderate weight and feel the benefits after just a few repetitions.” 

The study discovered the average woman burns 286 calories an hour while doing general gardening tasks. 

3) Weeding

Anyone who has weeded their garden knows it can take a lot of energy. Weeding involves a lot of movement, bending and strength, depending on how deep each weed is rooted.

Personal trainer, Lauren Knott, says: “Add squat holds while weeding for extra benefits. By squatting and holding while you pull weeds from your garden, you work your legs and protect your back since you won’t be hunched over while picking weeds.” 

We found that the average man burns 313 calories per hour when weeding the garden, while the average woman burns 264 calories per hour. 

Additional Health benefits of gardening

According to Hertfordshire based GP Dr Neel Patel, there are many other benefits of gardening, and green spaces boost wellbeing.

Research has identified that people who lived closer to green spaces reported less mental distress. Gardening will also boost your vitamin D intake as you are more exposed to sunlight, helping your body maintain strong muscles. Just ensure that you’re wearing adequate SPF sun cream to protect your skin.

Gardening is also associated with better cardiovascular health status. A study in Japan, showed that domestic gardening was also beneficial to the elderly, with positive effects on subjective happiness and habits around physical exercise and diet. 

Domestic gardens have been linked to reductions in social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in children aged four to six, better physical and mental wellbeing in middle-aged and older people, and a reduction in the incidence of depression in older people.