Gardening counts as moderate- to high-intensity exercise for kids, according to a small new study.
To gauge the physical intensity of common gardening activities, Korean researchers had 17 children with an average age of 12 in South Korea wear telemetric calorimeters and heart rate monitors as they engaged in 10 gardening-related activities, including watering, digging, sowing seeds, harvesting and raking.
The children in the HortTechnology study were given five minutes for each task, with a five minute break between each task. They went to the gardens in two visits, and completed five tasks during each visit.
The researchers found that all 10 of the gardening tasks constituted moderate or vigorous physical activity. Weeding, mulching, sowing seeds, harvesting, planting, mixing growing medium and hoeing all counted as moderate exercise. And raking and especially digging counted as vigorous exercise.
Adults can stand to benefit from gardening, too. A recent study from University of Utah researchers showed that people who are part of a community garden are less likely to be obese or overweight than non-gardeners.