Working out in your own ‘green gym’

Working in the garden is not only good for you physically but helps mental and emotional health as well.
Working in the garden is not only good for you physically but helps mental and emotional health as well.
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Getting fit doesn’t have to be all about the gym, as this year’s National Gardening Week aims to prove.

The theme of this year’s event, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, is Get Fit in the Garden and RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate has lots of great events to show how gardening can boost your health and happiness.

As well as the jobs in your own garden that will help get you fit, the event is also designed to show how those green fingered habits can boost both our mental health and get those feel-good endorphins flowing.

Katherine Musgrove, Garden Manager at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, said many doctors recognise the positive benefits green spaces have on both our physical and mental health.

“Gardens are the perfect ‘green gym’, they are free, on your own doorstep and the ideal place to get fit without the need for expensive equipment or the latest gym gear.

Outlining the jobs that can help you stay in shape, she said: “The weekly lawn mowing regime can help us maintain a healthy weight, everyday activities such as hoeing and weeding are great for toning the arms and if you spend your time tending the vegetable patch or allotment, there’s the added bonus that you can eat the fruits of your labour too.”

With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, now is the perfect time to start a garden workout. Prepare the ground for sowing by digging in some bulky organic matter like manure or leaf mould. Digging is great exercise for your quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks, as well as for your trunk, shoulders and arms According to Harvard Medical School, a person weighing around nine stone will burn 150 calories in half an hour of digging. Raking is good for aerobic exercise and a great way to get your lawn in good order for summer. Raking the lawn for 30 minutes burns around 120 calories, the same as a half hour of T’ai Chi, volleyball and horse riding.

There will be plenty of pruning to be done to get the garden tidy ready for warmer weather. Creepers like wisteria, ivy and Virginia creeper often grow high up and need regular pruning to stop them taking over spaces. Stretching and bending as you prune can help keep muscles supple and in shape.

As well as ways to use your own garden as a ‘green gym’ there are events to enjoy at all four RHS gardens around the UK. Harlow Carr will be offering weekday morning T’ai Chi sessions, a tour of the kitchen garden and Meet the Gardener sessions. As part of National Open Gardens, entry to Harlow Carr will be free on Friday, April 15.


The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgewood, as the Horticultural Society of London.

The principle purpose was to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture.

An experimental garden was established in Chiswick in 1881 and the Society began an extensive series of plant collecting expeditions introducing a wealth of plants to the UK.