Want to get into shape? Get out of the gym and into the garden. You don’t get pretty pink petunias by dumping a bag of seed on the ground and sitting on the patio. You plan and work.

It starts simply enough, bending down to pick a weed or a stray blade of grass. After a couple of trips to the shed for tools, you find yourself thigh deep in weeds, dirt and plants. Your heart beats faster. Sweat trickles. You haven’t started digging the pond, raking leaves, or lifting piles into your compost bin but your body is talking. “This feels like exercise.”

It is. While launching the leaf blower or wielding the weed eater, a 150 pound person burns about 120 calories. Continual bending, hand raking, lifting and deep digging uses up 315 calories.

According to a Kansas State University study gardening exercise strengthens the heart, improves circulation, builds muscle strength, improves joint mobility and increases endurance and flexibility. Most importantly, exercise makes you look and feel better and keep your spirits high.

Fran Cooper, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

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