Working in a clinic where we treat numerous active people, many of which are runners who have run half or full marathons, I am often asked if I am a runner.

In my younger days I was a sprinter, which is vastly different from running. Sprinting you generally run under 800m as fast as you can. If you pull a muscle, help is readily available. You don’t need to carry water or gels with you and your workout only takes a few hours to complete if the socializing is minimal. Most of the sprinters I know who have gone on to be runners have generally maxed at a distance of 5km.

Getting back to the question in hand, my response is that while I do not run, I do garden. Gardening for me is not a 4’ x 8’ plot where I put the same plants year after year with the occasional session of weeding and watering. My garden consists of all available land in the front and back yard and is in a constant state of evolution. If plants out grow their location or aren’t working where they’ve been placed, whether due to too much or too little sun, they need to be moved. Oh no! I’m just like my mother! My gardening advice to her when I was a teenager was something like, “Mom, just dig a hole, put the plant in and leave it there. Stop moving them all the time!” I like to think I was wiser back then.

Recently someone asked me this question again and I pondered whether or not gardening was a reasonable way to exercise. I reviewed all that I had done the last time I was “gardening”. I had done more pull out the weed walking lunges and squats to count, as well as a fair number of soil bag dead lifts. My biceps got a workout lifting the bags, large planters and pushing the wheelbarrow as well. Not to mention the ….muscles of my back! The bucksaw triceps workout taking care of fallen branches is a killer and never mind the core stabilization that is always in play.

I’m not sure how many kilometers I walked moving about the yard, but I’m pretty confident that I got a couple of 5k’s in. Also, my gardening sessions tend to be several hours at a time so I feel pretty good about the endurance work I put in.

Upon reflection I have to say I’m pleased with all the exercise I passively get while out in the yard creating and recreating the landscape. An added bonus is that it all increases tenfold every time I need to dig a hole for a new plant. Living on the Precambrian shield means my gardening is more akin to excavation.

The only thing I would say that was lacking from my garden workouts is sustained cardio. I’ll have to figure out how to change this….someday.

And in case you’re wondering what I do come winter, well thank goodness Ottawa is in a snow belt. Snow shoveling is another great workout.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s enjoy this beautiful summer.

Happy gardening to all who enjoy becoming one with the dirt!