Gardening isn’t just great for our ever-important bee population and the environment–it’s wonderful for the health of people, too! Gardening is a fabulous hobby for adults and kids alike, and a great way to stay in shape for people of all ages; kids can help with basic gardening and yard work for a healthy dose of obesity-fighting activity, and seniors can get a low-impact workout that gently strengthens and stretches their muscles. It may not seem like it at first, but tending a flower bed is actually hard work; bending, stretching, kneeling, weeding, and digging are just a few of the things you’ll be doing in a garden, and many of your muscle groups will be involved, making it a wonderful full-body workout.

Photo via Pixabay by Watsilchum

Of course, you’ll need to take some precautions, like wearing sunblock and the proper clothing, but when it’s done right, gardening can help you stay fit and feel better, and it can even help you make better choices when it comes to nutrition. Here are some of the best ways this activity can help you get back in shape.

It can help you get more health-conscious

Working in a garden full of delicious vegetables can help you get more health-conscious and look for more nutritious meal ideas, especially at harvest-time. Stocking your green space with veggies and fruit that you can bring straight to your table will not only help you eat better, it will also allow you to save money and get your kids excited to make more nutritious choices.

It can help you try new movements

Different types of gardening can work different parts of your body, so look for various ways to stay active in your yard. Rather than having one designated spot for a flowerbed, think about adding island beds around a newly-planted tree, or place them apart from the landscaping to add a bright touch to your lawn.

It can stave off depression

Working in the garden can help your mental health as well as your physical health, although sometimes the two go hand-in-hand; depression, stress, and anxiety can all have a negative effect on your body, from making it difficult to stay active to affecting your diet. Working in the sunshine doing something you enjoy can really make a positive difference on your mental wellbeing and can help you focus on what is most important in your life.

It can help joint pain

When done right, gardening can help with joint pain and various aches. Be sure to have a foam mat handy to kneel on, which will save your knees from aching. Pruning plants and doing a bit of weeding can help keep you limber and will allow your joints to stay flexible.

It can help you lose weight

If you do it regularly, gardening can actually burn calories. Keep up a steady pace so your body can get the maximum benefit.

“Unlike other rigorous physical activities, people are more likely to stick with gardening and do it on a regular basis. When gardening, you aren’t focused on how many calories you’re burning or how rapid your heart rate is—your attention is focused on the task at hand as you work the earth and tend to your growing seeds. You are more able to enjoy what you’re doing as you don’t realize you’re even exercising,” writes Dr. Anjana Chhabra of the Institute For Weight Management.

Remember that gardening may be fun in the moment, but it can leave you sore the next day if you don’t take some precautions. Start slowly and stay hydrated while you work, especially if you’re in full sun. If you start to feel dizzy or nauseated, take a break and move into the shade.