We’re fast approaching National Gardening Week, which is set to take place between 11th-17th of April. This year the theme is ‘get fit in the garden’, and is set to highlight all the ways you can stay active by both sprucing up and making the most of your garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society are behind it all, and are busy planning events in locations all over the country to celebrate the week, including a wide range of activities, from ‘meet the gardener’ events to Tai Chi classes! It’s set to prove gardening can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health, while also being a perfect opportunity for the elderly to get out and active.


Health Benefits of Gardening

Anyone who’s done a bit of gardening before will know that it can be quite strenuous work, but most people don’t necessarily think of it as exercise. However, there is evidence to show that gardening can help you burn fat and tone your muscles, as well as decrease your risk of heart disease, particularly if the type of gardening you’re doing is vigorous and causes you to become out of breath. Statistically, it is estimated that a half an hour of:

  • Raking burns 100 calories
  • Weeding burns 105 calories
  • Lawn moving burns 195 calories
  • And digging and shovelling burns a incredible 250 calories!

In such context it is clear that gardening can very much be considered exercise, helping you burn almost as many calories as a work-out can! But it’s not just full of physical benefits, it’s also pretty good for your mental health and well-being too!

Being out in the sun and gaining exposure to UVB rays stimulates Vitamin D production, which helps keep your bones healthy. As well as this, the psychological impact of working outside can be immensely beneficial, especially for the elderly. Studies show that exposure to nature helps to relieve stress and muscle tension, as well as lowering blood pressure.

For those who are housebound, the stimulation that the garden offers, with its colours, smells and sights are a welcome and much needed change of environment, which has a massively positive impact on an individual’s well-being.

Gardening can also be extremely good fun. Tidying up the garden is seen as an enjoyable task for many as it results in a pleasant space that they can spend time in during the summer months, as well as enabling you to grow your own plants and food!


It can become your Outside Gym

Once your garden is in a neat and tidy state, you can start to use it for outside exercise in the summer months. Depending on your age, you can keep your exercises pretty simple but effective or use it like you would a gym, collecting all the equipment you have hiding around the house, from the old exercise bike in the garden, to weights in the loft.

If you have space for a mat, all you need to do is grab a tablet or a phone and use the internet as your guide for a home pilates session, or a more stringent High Intensity Workout. With the space to exercise in the fresh air, your workout routine will become a whole lot more healthy and fun.


Are there events near me?

The RHS has organised events in numerous locations, eager to get as many people back in the garden as possible, and while many are still to be announced, there are a few around the Richmond area you can attend yourself.

  • 11-13th April: RHS Garden Wisley in Woking is kicking things off with many activities still to be announced
  • 15th April: National Gardens Open Day with many open days and events running. RHS Garden Wisley is running a full day of activities, from making a giant pine cone to tours of the vegetable garden.

You can also join a gardening club in your local area, or one of the larger organisations listed here such as the Historic Gardens Foundation.

Gardening is a great way to get fit and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine, whatever your age. In a world increasingly dominated by screens and modern technology, there’s never been a better time to find a reason to put it down and get reacquainted with the outdoors.