Sign up for the garden gym this New Year

Gardening is the perfect way to improve your fitness levels. As well as your physical well-being, it’s also great for your mental health says our gardening gourmet, chef and co-owner, John.

As humans, we’re conditioned to be outdoors. There is evidence to show that contact with nature calms us, grounds us and washes away the worries of the modern world.

Research has also shown that blood pressure and muscle tension drops when we’re in touch with the living world.

Our need to be ‘at one’ with nature is related to our evolution. It is deep down within us and the natural world has a massive impact on our brains. We all need to feel secure and it gives us a great sense of belonging and well-being.

Gardening is often a very physical pursuit and a good bit of digging or weeding can act as an extensive workout.

The activity uses all the major muscle groups and burns calories too. It’s a whole-body workout, strengthening the joints and increasing flexibility. Thirty minutes of weeding can apparently burn 180 calories.

Short bursts of gardening are good for you too. Within 10 minutes of getting out there, stress levels and blood pressure decreases. Forty minutes and the body’s immune system gets a tremendous boost.

The Horticultural Trades Association says that one or two hours of gardening a day can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and other chronic illnesses too.

There are other benefits as well. For example, growing your own is good for you, as the freshness of homegrown produce means they are nutrient-rich so when you eat them you get a bigger hit.

We’re in to gardening in a big way here at the hotel and our guests are welcome to get out into the greenery when they come and stay with us or to visit the various other great gardens nearby such as Hestercombe or Dunster Castle. This year we’re leaving our GYO veg beds fallow, but John is still going to be growing produce in our greenhouse and tending the herbs and fruit canes we have planted around the garden.

If you’re not into gardening, you can get many of the benefits of the natural world but just getting out and about on Exmoor and enjoying the scenery. We’ve even walks you can do from our front door.