Have you heard of garden exercising? Join “Aerobic Gardeners” across America as they celebrate National Gardening Exercise Day on June 6th by getting in their workout while gardening. Brought about to encourage exercise, sound nutrition, stress relief, social interaction, and further discovery in environment, science and nature, garden exercising is a great way to keep children active and learning. Curious how planting veggies involves exercise? Let us show you a few ways you can not only teach children how to be sustainable, but also teach them to stay active while they do so!

Yard Exercises:

Warm Up!

-Get your kids moving! Execute some pin wheels with your arms, stretch out those quads, and prepare for some gardening fun!

Stretch (5-10 minutes)

See if kids can reach down and touch their toes! Have them pull their arms across their body to make those limbs flexible and ready to dig with shovels.

Plan Your Gardening Exercise Session

Gardening involves a range of motions. You can determine which areas you want to concentrate on with the children in your care, whether it’s working on arm strength to build gross motor skills or lower body to build upon balance and coordination. Movements such as raking, mowing, weeding, pruning, and digging are all great ways to exercise little bodies! By alternating each exercise every fifteen minutes, children will fall into a steady routine of active gardening.

6 Techniques to Rake, Hoe, and Weed

  1. Bend one leg, knee down to the ground, and keep the other foot flat. Have kids use a hand tool to garden. This should stretch their hamstrings.
  2. Bend both legs and kneel on a soft pad. Break out the hand tools!
  3. Squat with both feet flat on the ground. Hold for a minute to admire your budding garden. (Don't do this if you have bad knees!)
  4. Lunge and Weed: Using a hand weeder, encourage students to lunge with one leg bent at the knee in front of them and one leg bent straight back. Have them pluck weeds away when they reach a full extension. 
  5. Sit and Weed. If children’s knees, feet, or legs won't permit much bending, then let them sit and garden. Having children exercise their arms and waist by using long-handled tools is always a great alternative.
  6. Stand with knees bent, back straight, and rake in a broad, sweeping motion that will require children to use their legs. While raking or hoeing, use long-handled tools so that kids won't have to bend over.

Source: http://www.ritecode.com/aerobicgardening/exerday.html

Safety Tips: 

  • When children rake or hoe, make sure they are not bending from the back. Instead, show them how to bend from their knees while using their legs, shoulders, and arms in a rocking motion.
  • Alternate stance from the left side to the right side of the body, as muscle use needs to be balanced.
  • Teach children to breathe out during the exertion phase.
  • Garden for short periods, only one to two hours maximum.
  • When raking, hoeing, or weeding, be sure to establish repetitions and sets, so children don’t overextend themselves.

Stretch When Finished

Just like any other physical activity, get young children into the habit of stretching after they’ve worked out. This can be an easy 15 to 20 minute stretch. Once cooled down, you’re all finished, with an active workout and a healthy garden to show for it!

Gardening Supplies

If you don’t have a garden at your school or home and would like to start one with the children in your care, check out our Earthbox collections! They’re perfect for starting out, as smaller gardens will only require 30 minutes of care a day.

Another option is our Raised Garden Kit, a great way to garden when space is limited.

Finally, you can find a range of child-sized hoes, rakes and shovels on our website. 

Do you have ideas for garden exercising? Share them with us by commenting below or tweeting us @Kaplanco with the hashtag #gardenexercise