Chelsea van Rijn.
Chelsea van Rijn. Sarah Harvey

Green thumb women and men less likely to be overweight

BENEFITS: Chelsea van Rijn.
BENEFITS: Chelsea van Rijn. Sarah Harvey

SHEDDING those unwanted kilos can be as easy as spending an afternoon in the garden, according to a university study.

Gardening may sound like a placid activity with little physical exertion, but shifting pots and bags of fertiliser make it tougher than it seems. Clipping hedges and pushing a wheelbarrow through the backyard for an hour or so will help you lose weight.

If you have tried everything to lose weight maybe spending some time in the garden is the next activity to cross of the list.

The University of Utah found people who develop a green thumb through community gardening have a significantly lower body mass index and are less likely to become obese.

The study found a 4kg weight difference in women who garden and a 7kg difference in men.

The study also concluded that gardeners were also less likely to be overweight or obese; 46 per cent less for women gardeners, and 62% less for men gardeners.

QT gardening columnist and owner of Trevallan Lifestyle Centre Chelsea van Rijn said most gardening activities can help tone muscles.

She said hauling bags of potting mix which weigh 16kg, lifting hefty hedge clippers to trim branches and using your legs to lift pot plants replicates a gym session.

During summer Ms van Rijn spends 30 minutes in the morning and evening tending to her garden.

She said the active nature of gardening would have a positive affect in helping people lose weight.

"I have heard of that a lot, especially in areas where they have placed gardens and the people that use them are considerably healthy," she said.

"There have been studies that say being in the garden is more relaxing than reading a book."

The study's lead author Cathleen Zick said the study focused on the relationship between community gardening and its outcome on people's health.

"It has been shown previously that community gardens can provide a variety of social and nutritional benefits to neighbourhoods," she said.

"But until now, we did not have data to show a measurable health benefit for those who use the gardens."



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