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Gardening is a healthy physical activity

The problem of getting our kids to get adequate exercise has been intensified by the high tech revolution. Now we are seeing our kids spending more time fixated on the screens of their smartphones, tablets and PCs than they used to spend watching TV. It's therefore important to work harder than ever to get our kids interested in staying in shape to help them avoid obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other illnesses associated with sedentary lifestyles. A good suggestion is gardening, which provides high-to-moderate physical activity for children, reported Science Daily on Jan. 31, 2014.

A young girl in a garden

The American Society for Horticultural Science says that research shows digging and raking are high-intensity activities, while the other activities associated with gardening are moderate-intensity. It has been suggested that gardening, which is often considered to be an activity primarily for adults, is gaining in popularity with children as new programs are introduced that promote the green benfits of gardening. A study from South Korea shows that children, like adults, can benefit greatly from digging, raking, and weeding in the garden.

The researchers, Sin-Ae Park, Ho-Sang Lee, Kwan-Suk Lee, Ki-Cheol Son, and Candice Shoemaker, have published the results of their study in Hort Technology. The researchers measured the metabolic cost of 10 gardening tasks in children in order to determine the exercise intensities which are associated with these tasks. The children in the study visited a garden in Cheongju, Chungbuk, South Korea twice and performed five different tasks on each visit. They were given five minutes to complete each gardening task and a 5-minute rest was allowed.

The children in this study wore a portable telemetric calorimeter and a heart rate monitor for measurement of oxygen uptake and heart rate during these gardening tasks. The results showed the 10 gardening tasks represented moderate- to high-intensity physical activity for the kids. The researchers concluded that the metabolic equivalents data for the gardening tasks will facilitate the development of garden-based exercise interventions for kids, which can be used to promote health and physically active lifestyles.

There may be an added benefit to gardening for kids in that it gets them outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine for awhile too. It might therefore be a good idea to have more pleasant gardening scenes show up on the screens of our kids high tech devices with suggestions which portray a positive psychological set for kids who get outside and get moving with some healthy gardening.

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