PhotoThere’s a lot to dig about gardening. The simple act of spending time outdoors already comes with a number of mental health benefits, but gardeners may experience some other perks.

As a physical activity, gardening can help strengthen important muscles, nourish vital organs, and burn hundreds of calories. In fact, a new infographic by AXA PPP Healthcare shows that just one hour of gardening can positively impact the health of your whole body.

Read on to learn why you should pat yourself on the back (after taking off those dirt-covered gardening gloves, of course) for spending an hour sprucing up the yard.

Physical impact

The raking, weeding, and other physical demands of gardening can improve your overall health in a number of ways, studies show. Here's how different parts of the body are impacted:

  • Head. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol are reduced as a result of gardening. Less stress can often translate to improved sleep patterns, greater relaxation, and a sense of mental wellbeing.
  • Heart. Your arms might be doing most of the lifting, but your heart also works hard while gardening. The act of gardening naturally helps strengthen the heart, build endurance, and increase stamina, leading to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Back. Raking and bagging involves a good amount of back movement, including twisting, bending, lifting, and carrying. All of these movements can help strengthen the muscles.
  • Stomach. Planting new flowers comes with benefits beyond yard beautification. Greater exposure to soil bacteria can lead to a more resilient stomach and a stronger immune system.
  • Feet and ankles. Whether you’re balancing an armload of plants or stretching to pull that hard-to-reach weed, your body will be fighting to stay balanced. Improved balance and flexibility can help prevent falls in older adults.

Calories burned

Gardeners often work up a sweat. But just how many calories do gardening chores end up burning? As it turns out, quite a few. Here are the estimated number of calories burned by each activity:

  • Heavy landscaping — 400 to 600 calories/hour
  • Cleaning the garden — 400 calories/hour
  • Raking the leaves — 350 to 450 calories/hour
  • Mowing the lawn — 250 to 350 calories/hour
  • Weeding the lawn — 200 to 400 calories/hour
  • Planting flowers — 200 to 400 calories/hour
  • Watering the garden — 120 calories/hour

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