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Gardening provides physical activity for younger adults

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Gardening tasks provide moderate to high intensity physical activity

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Studies have confirmed that gardening can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and improve psychological well-being, however many of those studies had concentrated on the health benefits for older adults and research on different age groups is limited.

Researchers from Konkuk University and Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea, examined the intensity of gardening activities for adults in their twenties.

In this new study Professor Ki-Cheol Son, Department of Environmental Health Science, Konkuk University, and lead author of study along with colleagues set out to determine the exercise intensities of gardening tasks for men and women in the r twenties.

The study included 15 university student’s average age 24 years and a body mass of 23.5. Each participant completed 10 gardening tasks in a high tunnel and a grassy area with weeds located near the high tunnel in Cheongju, Chungbuk, South Korea on two occasions.

Participants performed five gardening tasks ordered at random. Participants did each task for five minutes and then sat and rested in a chair for five minutes. All participants wore a portable telemetric calorimeter and respired into the facemask during the gardening tasks and resting periods so researchers could measure their oxygen uptake. The participants also wore a heart rate monitor to record heart rate data during the gardening tasks and resting periods via radiotelemetry.

The 10 gardening tasks performed by the subjects were determined to be moderate- to high-intensity physical activities; planting transplants, mixing growing medium, watering, harvesting, sowing, hoeing, mulching, raking, and weeding were all classified as "moderate intensity", while digging was a found to be a "high-intensity" activity and was the most intense task in study.

Professor Ki-Cheol Son explained "The exercise intensity of physical activity may differ between age groups and fitness levels, and there was not enough data on the metabolic equivalents of gardening tasks in different age groups to develop a garden exercise program for maintaining or improving health conditions.”

In conclusion the researchers write “the exercise intensity of gardening tasks should be useful information for developing garden exercise programs that meet the recommended physical activity for health benefits in adults.”

The researchers added that their data will also be valuable for designing horticultural therapy program based on the physical capacity of a client and for clients with special needs.

This study is published in HortTechnology.

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