This summer, I'm getting dirty. That's right, I decided to get radical and creative with my workouts by spending time in the garden. Quite by accident, I discovered that gardening can provide as much exercise and fun as the gym.
A few years ago, I started growing some spinach, tomatoes and herbs in a small container garden. Honestly, I must admit it, the thrill and pride of growing your own plants, flowers, and food really rocks!
As if that were not enough, I also discovered that gardening and urban farming are wonderful ways to get a great workout, too. The Centers for Disease Control backs me up on this — it categorizes gardening as a "moderate workout."
So yes, digging, raking, hoeing, weeding, and planting all fit into the functional exercise category. That's great, because that means you get to target all of our major muscles similar to exercises you would perform in a traditional workout.
Digging in the dirt is serious exercise, and you will definitely break a sweat. When you are digging, you are working primarily the larger muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, and calves, but also the core and your arms. In short, digging is a full-body exercise.
Raking is similar to the movement you do when you're doing rowing exercises you might perform with dumbbells, barbells, or even a rowing machine. With raking the entire upper body gets into the act, but especially the shoulders and back muscles.
Weeding is another pulling movement that also activates pretty much the entire body. With weeding you'll be targeting the legs with squats as well as hitting the back, shoulder, and arm muscles.
When you plant seeds, you have got to get down into the soil by either squatting or kneeling. Squats are what I found to be most comfortable, and you can definitely feel the burn. If squatting is not a good fit for you, then some people prefer to kneel. Kneeling will also work the large muscle groups in your legs, but you will be stretching in the kneeling position.
My accidental journey into gardening and urban farming has shown me that both have a lot in common with yoga, too. Similar to yoga, gardening and farming will gently teach you had to focus and to breath.
There's no doubt about it, in the garden, I literally feel grounded and relaxed. Being in the garden also brings good vibrations, optimism, and feelings of well being. Undoubtedly, the endorphins are being released when we fully emerge ourselves into this ancient practice.
Gardening and urban farming also bring other unexpected surprises like continuous knowledge, education, personal growth, community building and even friendships.
Isn't that cool? Gardening is good exercise, but also good for the community and the planet, too.
Philadelphia is one of the leading hotbeds for urban farming and gardening. Now you can get your workout, farming and gardening game all at the same time. Here are ten Philly farms (by no means a complete list) you're sure to want to check out this summer:
54th and Lindbergh Blvd.
The Lighthouse Garden/Farm
Front & Erie Streets
Francisville Urban Farm
1708 Ridge Avenue
51 Street and Chester Street
4300 Monument Road
2501 Cumberland Street
Nice Roots Farm
2901 West Hunting Park Avenue
Walnut Hill Community Farm
4610 Market Street
Mort Brooks Memorial Farm at Awbury Arboretum
1 Awbury Road