The Ultimate "Green" Workout

Photo: Jennifer

Recently our own Xin Lu wrote a post on a motivating way to lose weight (a very interesting piece.) Imagine my surprise when a commenter spoke my mind by sharing the ultimate in “green” workouts! Not only does this daily routine give me tone and energy, but I’ll be enjoying the “fruits” of my labor in just a few short weeks!

Commenter “Shelle” shared her tips for getting in shape while planting the seeds for a season of delicious natural meals – gardening! And while I was already well on my way to having one of our largest gardens to date, I loved hearing that someone else was reaping the benefits of the most eco-friendly exercise plans ever:

Plant a big “old-fashioned” garden. (Shelle suggested 9 long rows. We kind of overdid it with 15 rows and an big patch of odds-and-ends, but you should stick to whatever you can manage in a season.)

Commit to at least 30 minutes of “workin” it every day. If you have a larger garden, this may take an hour. Either way, the dedication has to be there to make it work. You can expect that once you have planted everything, your hoeing, weeding and watering will keep you very busy and using muscles that you forgot you even owned!

Plan to take a lunch each day from the food you harvest. This is the best part of the plan! If you haven’t already felt the amazing effects of gardening, you’ll love the renewed sense of wellness that can come from creating meals from your own organically grown veggies! Salads, stir-fry, baked goods, and flower treats are just a few of the delicious and nutritious rewards of your hard work. Yum!

Shelle lost weight, saved money, and greatly improved her health. While I haven’t been tracking it as closely, I have knocked off a few pounds, lost 2 inches, and feel amazingly energetic (and shall I say a bit frisky?) My husband has enjoyed watching me emerge from that post-baby cocoon that moms can get into, and I have counted up the blisters as badges of my war against the weeds! I complain a bit, but it has been the best exercise program ever.

Some extra tips for getting more exercise and keeping the garden environmentally-friendly include:

Water by hand or use rainwater collected from your rain barrels to keep plants hydrated. Hoses are also nice, but try to avoid letting the sprinkler do all the work.

Weed. Weed. Weed. There are lots of organic weeding tonics on the market, but none are as effective as pulling them yourself when they are tiny. You can hoe them once your veggies get a bit bigger. The hard work put in early will pay off, and your tummy and back muscles can get really toned from doing this.

Pick early and often. When plants start to bear edibles, pick them as often as they put on. This will encourage a bountiful harvest, and you can prolong the growing season by keeping the veggies from getting too large before you pick them.

Eat the flowers! They are delicious, and I have done this in the past with beautiful results. (See some recipes in my edible flower article.)

While it’s a little late in some areas of the country to begin a garden from seed, there are still plenty of late-season items that can be transplanted for a few more weeks. Visit your local nursery for some ideas for veggies you can get started with right away.

Thanks to Shelle for chiming in with the ultimate in “green” workouts!

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Fred Lee's picture

You know, as the world spirals out of control and the price of grains and gasoline skyrocket, growing our own food is the wave of the future. The fact that it improves our health and our planet are bonuses. Besides, it's a great way to spend time with the family and it's nice to know where your food comes from. Saving money makes it all the more sensible.

We are really into our garden, though it's mostly Ruth's and the children's gig, I just do the dirty work, i.e., turning, tilling and weeding. As far as weeding goes, talk about your losing battles. Not unlike the battle of the bulge.

And there are always good home school lessons about biology in there.

Myscha Theriault's picture

If we weren't in transition right now, I'd be right there with you, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Cool piece, Linsey.

Guest's picture

Having a garden and a pet are the two dreams that I'm saving for retirement. Both require so much time and love, and I want to fully enjoy the experiences. I love the flavor and texture of home grown vegetables and fruit! For me, no dessert in the world beats a sun-ripened strawberry or snow pea. : )

Linsey Knerl's picture

are straight from heaven... I love them.  And I'm with you on the homeschool lessons, Fred.  While it isn't a "formal" classroom activity for us, when we do get to the botany parts of our science discussion, the kids already know the answers (and roll their eyes to even be asked the 'obvious' gardening questions.)

The kids get geared up for tomatoes for many months before they come.  We have a row just for them to forage at will.  And they always get to help for a bit each day (even though the toddlers don't last too long amongst the weeds!)


Guest's picture

I didn't start gardening for exercise, but I find I'm getting quite a lot of it, especially since I expanded my garden this year, which means lots of digging and moving things. And as you say, it's so economical--the same (cheap) activity give you exercise, food, and a terrific sense of accomplishment.

It's not too late to plant from seed if you've got a decently long fall. I live in Ohio (zone 5/6) and I'm going out today to plant seeds for fall carrots and turnips. And squash and cucumbers grow quickly enough from seed that you could start them now and get a great harvest in a couple of months.

Guest's picture

Green minds think alike I guess! :)

Guest's picture

A SERIOUS workout versus using a gas spewing roto tiller.
I am going to deep till using an Eagle Claw tool that is the bomb in 6" plus rooting up and turning over virgin soil with natural growth you need to get back into the earth for decay/nutrients. I'm then going to cover sections to kill weed regrowth over the winter.
Then next spring work it over again and prep for seeds and plantings.

Also paint buckets or 5gallon plaster buckets used for foisting collected rainwater is good arm and shoulder strength developing.
Needed to do a two 30 gallon plastic garbage cans filled with rainwater transfer to my larger 50-100 gallon storage barrel.
I felt like a little dutch boy with water buckets in each hand.

Guest's picture

Great comment about watering- I must be the 'little dutch girl'. Water restrictions here prevent me from using sprinklers, or hoses at any times that suit me so I always end up using buckets of recycled water from around the house!

I live on a big sloped block and by watering my veggie patch, right down in the back corner (of course!) I get a full workout. Up and down no less than 30-40 steps with two full buckets gets my heart going every time!

Only problem with growing snow peas and beans is that my kids get into them before any can actually make their way onto our dinner plates! No such a bad problem to have really!