Tuesday, May 31

Does Gardening Count as Exercise?

My Knockout roses underneath
a cherry tree. I love these. They'll bloom
from now until frost!

The bamboo-like stalks of my Snowbank Boltonia plant have been pruned. The majority of the weeds plucked and disposed of from my flower beds. Two new geraniums planted and watered. And finally, last year’s Mother’s Day gift, a Topsy Turvy for tomatoes is prepared and dangling off my back porch. And yet, there’s still more weeding to do and it’s time to prune my late-blooming azaleas.

Springtime always makes me question my decision a few years ago to bulldoze my boring but low-maintenance flower beds and install a perennial garden. But then my roses bloom. And then comes the pink spirea, yellow daylilies, ornamental grasses, red and purple bee balm, lavender butterfly bush and others and I forget about the hard work. It’s like childbirth. When you’re presented with a beautiful little baby you soon forget about the 36-hours of labor is took to get there.

Shirobana spirea (pink),
gardenia (white), and
Kaleidoscope Abelia (yellow)
After toiling in the yard for a few hours the other day I thought, surely this must count as exercise. I mean, I’m sweating, bending over, squatting, walking back and forth to the garage for various tools. It’s got to count! I pleaded to the exercise gods.

So I looked it up. And the short answer is…no, it doesn’t count.


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week plus, two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities. And my little gardening project doesn’t count toward meeting either of these goals.
In order to qualify as part of my required moderate-intensity workouts I have to get my heart rate up, my breathing needs to be labored and I need to break a sweat.
Well, I was certainly sweating, but that was because it was ridiculously hot. The more relevant fact is, I could still talk, sing, chat on the phone, etc. All signs that the activity really wasn’t that difficult. (This is why shopping and cooking aren't considered exercise either.)
The CDC lists the following as examples of moderate-intensity activities:
                Walking fast
                Doing water aerobics
                Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
                Playing doubles tennis
                Pushing a lawn mower
Next time I think I’ll try speed gardening. Surely zipping around the yard like The Flash will get my heart rate up.
In the meantime, I guess I'll hit the gym and console myself with the knowledge that at least gardening is better than sitting on the couch or being parked in front of the computer. And of course, I get to enjoy my garden. Which is reward enough.

For more information on the CDC guidelines for physical activity, click here.

1 comment:

  1. And there was me thinking it was only the English who have a love of gardening!