Article | . 2014 Vol. 32, Issue. 1
Comparison of the Metabolic Costs of Gardening and Common Physical Activities in Children

Department of Environmental Health Science, Konkuk University1
Department of Industrial Engineering, Hongik Universit2

2014.. 123:128


This study investigated the exercise intensity and energy expenditure involved in two gardening activities (planting transplants and sowing seeds in a garden plot) and four common physical activities (running, skipping rope, walking, and throwing a ball) in children. Eighteen children aged 11 to 13 years (mean age, 12.3 ± 0.7 years) participated in this study. The children made two visits to a high tunnel in Cheongju, Chungbuk, South Korea and performed randomly selected activities. Each activity was performed for 10 min, with a 5-min rest period between activities. The children wore a Cosmed K4b2 (Cosmed K4b2; Cosmed, Rome, Italy), which is a portable calorimetric monitoring system, to measure indicators of metabolic cost such as oxygen uptake and energy expenditure. The children’s heart rates during the activities were measured by radiotelemetry (Polar T 31; FitMed, Kempele, Finland). We found that the two gardening and four physical activities performed by the 11-13 years old children in this study were moderate- to high-intensity physical activities [i.e., 5.4 ± 0.7 to 9.1 ± 1.4 metabolic equivalents (METs)]. Running (9.1 ± 1.4 METs) and skipping rope (8.8 ± 1.1 METs) were high-intensity physical activities, whereas walking (6.1 ± 0.9 METs), planting transplants (5.8 ± 1.1 METs), throwing a ball (5.6 ± 1.1 METs), and sowing seeds (5.4 ± 0.7 METs) were moderate-intensity physical activities. Running and skipping rope were significantly more intense than the other activities (P < 0.0001). The gardening tasks such as planting transplants and sowing seeds in a garden plot showed similar exercise intensities and energy costs as walking and throwing a ball. This study indicates that gardening can be used as a physical activity intervention to provide health benefits similar to more common physical activities such as walking and running.

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