Heart Health and Gardening
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According to Texas A & M University a seven-year study of 12,000 middle-aged men at high risk for coronary heart disease showed that those who kept up moderate, leisure time physical activity for an average of about 50 minutes every day were healthier than those who did little or nothing. One of the top choices of these active men was gardening. The key to good health, according to another study, is expending 2,000 calories a week in exercise, beyond the routines of daily life. Your cardiovascular system will benefit most from running, brisk walking, cycling, and other activities that raise your heart rate sufficiently for at least 20 minutes. But you can still get many benefits from an aerobic exercise such as gardening if you pursue it regularly.
Even the less strenuous forms of garden upkeep – weeding, trimming, raking – can burn off about 300 calories an hour. Spading, lifting, tilling, and raking can improve muscle tone and strength. You can make an effort to garden energetically, rather than just puttering. Try to work at a constant pace. Use manual clippers and trimmers instead of power equipment. As with any kind of exercise, it’s a good idea to warm up and stretch before you start. Don’t do one single chore for long periods of time, spend 20 minutes or so on one chore, then change to another chore where you are using different muscles.
It’s not a good idea to abandon all other exercise in favor or working in the yard. I have recently come across a more positive way of thinking that I have tried to incorporate into my own life that you might like to try – instead of thinking “I have to weed the garden”, think “I get to weed the garden”. Think about the positive – think about the insects or wildlife you may see or hear, the smell of the soil and the sun on your body. And don’t forget other rewards such as fresh fruits and vegetables and flowers.
Happy Heart Healthy Gardening!