The really useful way to keep fit and trim – Gardening

Lady with lawn mower
The Lawn mower was originally marketed in the UK as providing an ideal exercise for the lady of the house.

January Blues? New statistics show a spot of gardening could cheer you up says the RHS
As new stats show that gardening makes you happy, the RHS films career changing gardeners

A new survey* from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has shown that Brits truly are a nation of gardeners with 77% saying they garden and 82% saying it makes them feel happier. The results also revealed some surprising facts about people’s career choices with a whopping 70% saying that given the choice, they would prefer to spend their working day in a garden with just 9% opting for an office and 21% undecided.

Guy Barter, RHS Chief Advisor, says: “Coming in January, traditionally thought of as the most depressing month of the year when job hunting is at its highest, these stats might prompt a few to think about their career direction.”

In light of this the RHS has created a series of short films, asking people who chose to ditch the desk and follow their dream of spending their working life in horticulture, why they did it and what makes them love their jobs in January. The film series – titled Green Mondays – can be viewed here at the RHS youtube channel Green Mondays and includes a former bank manager, TV costume designer, paralegal, chef, finance worker and more, all of whom couldn’t be happier in their horticultural careers.

The survey of over 2000 adults also found that even in the winter months, gardening can still be a great way to beat the January blues and get fit. Just 18% of those surveyed said they didn’t like gardening in winter months and 80% cited, “getting outside and being active” as a reason they loved gardening with “the satisfaction of growing something” coming in second with 72%.

Young people aged 16-24 and Londoners came out top of the happiness index with 88% of both groups saying gardening made them happier. Men and women also had rather different preferences with double the number of men saying they were happiest in the garden when mowing the lawn compared to women, who preferred planting and weeding.

Guy Barter, RHS Chief Advisor, continues: “With these stats showing that most people feel happy gardening, the RHS would love to encourage more people to try getting outside to garden away those winter blues.  Obviously January isn’t a typical time you’d think about gardening, but there’s lots you can do to start getting your plot in shape for spring like digging up beds and lugging about pots, all of which are also great for releasing endorphins – and cheaper than the gym!  Around 35% of the gardening respondents to the survey said that they don’t get outside doing jobs during the winter and I’d really recommend they give it a go.  If gardening makes them happier, what better time than now to help cheer them up.

“I hope that these results and the videos of gardening career changers will encourage more people to get outside and enjoy their gardens in January and perhaps even make a few more office workers think again about careers in horticulture.”

RHS Chief Advisor Guy Barter suggest a few gardening jobs to get you, and your garden, into shape in January

Flex those muscles moving your plants
Spring is a good time to start moving any plants in pots you’ve been keeping in the greenhouse back outdoors and into the sun – at least during the daytime – to get them used to colder temperatures again. Say goodbye to the dumbbells and give yourself a workout heaving your pot about instead, just remember to bend at the knees not the waist.

Work up a sweat digging
Digging is probably the best way to get a work out in the garden and luckily for those with a few Christmas pounds to shed, there’s lots of digging to be done in January. Prepare your ground for sowing by digging in bulky organic matter like manure or leaf mould. This will improve drainage and make sure your soil is packed with nutrients ready for sowing with all those healthy veggies.

Stay more flexible by pruning
Forget chanting mantras, roll up your Yoga mat and keep yourself flexible instead by pruning ornamental vines. Creepers like wisteria, ivy and Virginia creeper often grow high up and need regular pruning to stop them taking over spaces so invest in a good pair of secateurs or loppers and stretch, twist and bend as you get your plants and yourself into shape.

Replace ‘resistance training’ with mowing
Most lawns in spring won’t have grown enough to need machine mowing. Instead, get yourself a hand mower, keeping the settings high to avoid cutting the grass to short, and push it round the garden yourself. The faster you go, the more calories you’ll burn. Trimming the edges of your lawns is good for those who want to bend and stretch as well.

Make a cold frame instead of curls
Train your brain and your muscles by making your own cold frame. It’s much cheaper than buying one new, you’ll need some lengths of wood and a bit of acrylic sheeting. Sawing the wood up to the right lengths yourself will give your biceps a good work out and figuring out all the measurement will keep your brain sharp.

Raking to the rhythm
Moss grows vigorously in the damp cool conditions of winter and can leave your pathways slippery and your lawn overgrown. Forget the aerobics, get your headphones on and rake to the rhythm – it’s a great way to replace your aerobics class.

Power walk round a garden to get some ideas
January is a great time to plan your garden and those in need of a few ideas could do less than take a brisk walk round a public garden. Jump off the step trainer and power walk your way to inspiration around the 240 acres of RHS Garden Wisley instead.

Mix it up by turning your compost
Alternating between different kinds of exercise is great for the fitness as any advocate of circuit training will tell you. Digging out your compost bin, mixing up the organic matter and then shovelling it all back in again will make sure your compost rots evenly as well as using lots of different muscle groups.

*Censuswide was commissioned by the RHS to conduct the survey of 2053 UK adults in January 2014.

·         There were 2,053 respondents to the survey
·         77% of those questioned garden
·         82% said gardening made them happier
·         When asked why they enjoyed gardening:
o    Getting outside and being active            : 79.50%
o    Satisfaction of growing something: 71.60%
o    Sense of achievement: 62.40%
o    Creating something beautiful: 51.90%
o    Growing food you will eat: 41.50%
o    Being creative: 37.00%
o    Learning all the time: 24.50%
o    Other 2.80%
·         When asked which gardening job makes you happiest:
o    Planting 70.80%
o    Pruning 41.60%
o    Weeding 33.50%
o    Mowing 29.60%
o    Digging            17.10%
o    Grafting            7.60%
o    Mulching 7.10%
o    Other 4.70%
·         47% said gardening in the winter months made them happy, 35% said they didn’t garden over winter months, 18% said it didn’t make them happy
·         70% would prefer to spend their working day in a garden, 21% had no preference, 9% preferred an office
·         75% were unsurprised to hear that gardeners were happiest in their careers, 25% were surprised