2011 April 26 – NYDailyNews.com

Reprinted from NYDailyNews.com

Gardening can burn serious calories with squatting, watering, planting, weeding: report

BY Katie Nelson, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERTuesday, April 26th 2011, 4:00 AM
 Lee Reich/AP

The standing, stooping, kneeling, watering and weeding involved in gardening can burn a lot of calories, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal. You don’t need to flex all your muscles to lose weight – just exercising your green thumb can whittle your waist.

The standing, stooping, kneeling, watering and weeding involved in gardening can burn more than 300 calories an hour, the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal reports.

This should come as no surprise to students who work in the Enchanted Garden at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx, nurturing a half-acre vacant lot into a mix of flowers, vegetables, fruit trees and wetlands.

“We put them in there for an hour or two and they are exhausted,” said Tony Thoman, 48, a social studies teacher who helps manage the garden.

“There’s active digging, and moving of materials from one place to another. It’s constant, steady activity.”

Planting, weeding and composting, in particular, require flexibility and strength, said Maggie Clarke, 57, founder and president of the Riverside-Inwood Neighborhood Garden.

Clarke typically works in the upper Manhattan green space – which has 200 species of grasses, bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs, evergreens and herbs – a couple of hours a week, weather permitting.

“It’s good exercise,” Clarke said.

“I remember the backs of my legs being sore because you bend over a lot to weed and pick things up when you plant. Your back can get sore after a day of shoveling.”

Gotham’s gardeners should use caution as a result.

“Start slowly,” said Neal Pire, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine, “and progress a little more each successive day.”

Stay safe by using proper form, said Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.

“Sometimes I watch friends garden, and the body mechanics are horrendous,” Matthews said. “Make sure you’re bending at the knees and using your leg muscles to perform good movement.”

COMMENTS from NYDAILYNEWS.COM

walker11218: 5:39:28 AM – Apr 26, 2011

I agree that gardening is a great way to exercise, however I strenuously disagree about bending from the knees. The story mentions a 57 year old gardener. I’m 63, & ran regularly for exercise until 25 years later my knees said “enough.” From my own experience of two years as a regular volunteer in a garden in my local park, I’ve learned to bend from the hips (NOT the knees), keep my back straight, & brace myself w/ one elbow against the same knee. This transfers the stress to the butt & arm muscles, which can handle it a lot better than my knees can. If I bent from the knees for weeding & planting, I’d never be able to walk to and from the garden where I work.

backyarder1: 7:20:43 AM- Apr 26, 2011

Here’s a great post that lists the calories burned for various eco-friendly gardening activities! http://tinyurl.com/292fnud

RoughAcres: 8:13:36 AM – Apr 27, 2011

Kudos to Dr. Clarke and the volunteer gardeners @ the RING!