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Gardening: Great Exercise for Children

Update Date: Jan 31, 2014 03:46 PM EST

Exercise, particularly running, might not be on the list of the most favorite things to do for young children. For that select group of kids who have difficulty participating in rigorous activities, such as sports, obesity risk could increase. In order to remedy that, a new study is reporting that gardening could provide a good high to moderate form of exercise for children.

In this study, the researchers examined the effects of gardening programs on young children. The team, composed of researchers Sin-Ae Park, Ho-Sang Lee, Kwan-Suk Lee, Ki-Cheol Son, and Candice Shoemaker recruited 17 children to take part in two garden areas located in South Korea. The two different environments were a high tunnel and an outdoor space. The children participated in a total of 10 different gardening tasks, which were digging, raking, weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing seeds, harvesting, watering, mixing growing medium, and planting transplants. The children had to visit the areas twice. During each visit, they performed five garden tasks with a five-minute break in between each one.

During the gardening time, the children were asked to wear portable telemetric calorimeters and heart rate monitors. The researchers recorded information on oxygen uptake, heart rate and energy spent on the tasks. The researchers found that these 10 gardening tasks provided moderate to high intensity physical activity for the children. Out of all of the tasks, digging and raking were considered the highest levels of exercise.

Even though young children will most likely not pick up gardening on their spare time, schools and childcare centers could consider incorporating a gardening program. The program would help the children exercise while educating them at the same time.

The findings were published in HortTechnology.

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