They used to be regulars at some of the best gyms in the world and indulged in some intense workout sessions to stay fit. Big budget personal trainers were just a call away. But not anymore. Now, they no longer need trainers. Celebrities like "pretty woman" Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Cindy Crawford and Shilpa Shetty simply put on their workout gear every morning, and head out to their swanky gardens for intense workout sessions.
‘Gardencise’ is their new mantra for burning off extra calories and staying in enviably perfect shape.
Spades, shovels, gardening forks, secateurs, rakes and hoes replace dumbbells and high-end gym equipment as workout tools, and mowing the lawn, planting flowers, clearing the ground of stones, rocks and other impediments and pulling up weeds constitute the new exercise regimens.
Gardening increases flexibility and strengthens joints. A mere 30 minutes of daily gardening can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, prevent diabetes and heart disease, and prevent or slow osteoporosis.
Neha Lohia C, transformation nutrition coach, yoga expert, organic farmer, loves to mix things up to come up with something new all the time. "How about digging a little deeper and waking up to the concept of aerobic gardening or yogic gardening? There are great synergies in all forms of body work that involve movement of some sort, and you will soon realise that eventually they all work on all muscle groups, like a full-body workout," says Neha.
After being in the fitness field for over 27 years, Dinaz Varvatwala decided to do something different in 2020. "I wanted to start gardening as a hobby. I was a bit of a disaster until then, I would look at a plant and it would die. But giving up was not an option. So I decided to skip my workouts on Saturday mornings and do gardening instead," she shares.
"I started bending, digging, and realised that there were some moves and muscles which I had never used while exercising" she adds.
Several gardening activities require full-body movements — squatting to weed, bending over to pick up tools and plants, pushing wheelbarrows, and carrying items from one place to another. "If you can be little conscious about your gardening activities, this can be your best daily workout, as gardening incorporates all four major types of exercises: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. It works on all of the major muscle groups, including your legs, buttocks, back, abdomen, neck, arms, and shoulders. And it can be so much more vigorous yet calming," says Neha.
So, lunge at that weed or bend down fully like you would in a suryanamaskar and lift that plant pot. "Enjoy the process. Don’t force your body into anything. Instead allow gardening to stretch open all that’s locked up in you," she recommends.
For most people, young and old, gardening also offers the benefits of low-impact exercise, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Raking, watering, hoeing and other gardening activities can burn between 150 and 300 calories in just 30 to 45 minutes depending on weight, the CDCP says.
"It’s a great initiative. While gardening does wonders for your sense of calmness, psychological wellbeing, and creativity, it also has immeasurable benefits when it comes to exercise," says actress Mannara Chopra. Staying active is important to overall health, and gardening can help boost fitness — especially if you’ve been sedentary. It can help improve dexterity and strength, muscle mass, aerobic endurance, and functional movement.
Being green-fingered is not just good for the soul, it’s good for your waistline too.
"There are definitely some physical benefits in doing gardening activities on a regular basis. It will give some cardiovascular benefits and also help in toning muscles. It will help a lot in mental health too," says fitness enthusiast and entrepreneur Uma Chigurupati. She says that according to scientists, certain fungi in the soil increase the production of happy chemicals like serotonin. "That’s why people who spend a lot of time in gardens have a lot of patience, creativity and kindness and they are happy too," adds Uma, who manages a pharma company and a vineyard with equal ease.
How many calories do typical outdoor activities burn?
According to the CDCP, gardening qualifies as exercise.
30-45 min Getting out into the yard for just 30-45 minutes can burn up to 300 calories. Spending three hours gardening will burn the same amount of calories as a 40-minute run on a treadmill.
Shoveling snow: 400-600 Calories per hour heavy yard work (landscaping, moving rocks, hauling dirt)
400-600 Calories per hour raking and bagging leaves
200-400 Calories per hour gardening, pulling weeds, planting flowers, etc.
250-350 Calories per hour Mowing the lawn
Digging burns roughly 272 Calories per hour. Digging also works your arms, shoulders and back, as well as your thighs if you are using a hand shovel and crouching