Studies have shown that gardening is an excellent form of physical exercise because it works most, if not all, of the body’s major muscle groups. When you work in your garden, you are constantly moving –bending over, picking up, stretching, twisting, squatting, lifting, in other words – exercising! A “gardening workout” provides a challenging aerobic workout without being as stressful on your body as some other forms of physical exercise like weightlifting, aerobics, or running. Working in your garden for 45 minutes can burn about the same number of calories as 30 minutes of more traditional exercise programs like jogging or aerobics. And, unlike other forms of exercise, gardening is engaging! You are actually accomplishing something wonderful on your way to becoming healthy and fit. There is enjoyment and satisfaction in making things grow, prosper, and produce from a patch of dirt!
Gardening is relaxing, energizing, and rejuvenating. It soothes your mind and spirit. During your time in the garden, the demands and stresses of your everyday life seem to fade away. You can totally immerse yourself in your plants and your gardening chores. Digging, raking, planting, harvesting, trimming, transplanting, mowing, and mulching are all therapeutic to the body and soul! Even weeding, to many gardeners, is an extremely rewarding gardening task. Aromatherapy? Who needs it when you are working and weeding in the midst of the soothing scents of your Perovskia, lavender, and other fragrant plants?
André and Mark have personal experience with the healthful benefits of gardening. Martin Viette, André’s father, had three heart attacks in 1961 at the young age of 58. He spent 6 weeks in an oxygen tent and 6 months in the hospital (cardiac medicine has come a long way since then!). When he was released from the hospital, he went to St. Thomas, USVI to recuperate. The warm sea air was therapeutic but he didn’t stop there. He learned to exercise in a way that exercised his heart but didn’t stress it. How? At first he walked, but then he started building gardens on his steep mountainside property. He eventually created and maintained 15 acres of gardens, working (not slaving) from morning to night. Mark is convinced that he talked to his plants – good therapy for the spirit! Following these serious heart attacks, Martin Viette lived another very “fruitful” 17 years! (Be sure to consult your doctor before attempting any exercise regimen.)