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EXERCISE RIGHT WEEK: The Health Benefits of Getting Kids in the Garden

This week is Exercise Right Week and we are talking about a not so traditional, but very beneficial form of exercise, gardening!

As a general guide, a child weighing 35kgs will burn 52 calories per 30mins of playing frizbee versus 66 calories per 30 minutes of gardening. As you can see, energy burnt during gardening is comparable to other exercise activities! And understandably, plants need a lot of your child’s attention so a trip to the garden is usually necessary twice per day. Without a doubt, getting kids away from the screen and out in the garden is a fun way to encourage more movement during the day.

Exercise aside, A 2010 report from the National Foundation for Educational Research links spending time in the garden to improved reading, writing and numeracy skills in children. Interestingly, it was noticed that the changeable natural of gardening eg change in weather or temperature, encourages children to adapt and be more equipped for problem solving. When things aren’t going to plan or what your child expects, encouraging children to think on their feet and accept a different course is a beneficial learning opportunity.

As an added bonus, if we are talking about fruit and vegetable gardening, research has shown promising results suggesting school gardening programmes provide an interactive environment that has the potential to change children’s self-efficacy and willingness to try different fruit and vegetables. Whilst not conclusive, it is being suggested, improvements in attitudes towards fruit and vegetables may lead to an increased actual consumption of fruit and vegetables.

As you can see gardening is an all round beneficial activity for children to get involved in!

Keen to start a wholefood home garden with your children? Here are some vegetables to plant now:

  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Snow peas
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Chives
  • Carrot
  • Strawberries

To keep energy levels up whilst gardening, and to stop all of the produce being eaten before picked! Here are some quick healthy snacks to have on hand:

  • Rafferty’s Garden Banana & Blueberry with Yoghurt Baby Smoothie
  • Sliced banana on sourdough toast or rice cakes with a drizzle of almond butter
  • Rafferty’s Garden Banana & Apricot Multigrain Breakfast cereal with natural yoghurt or milk – can make into a bircher for a quick on the go snack (see recipe below)
  • Boiled eggs, sliced cheese and lightly steamed vegetable sticks or try some washed produce straight from the garden!
  • Home-made wholegrain muesli slice or loaf

Banana & Apricot Multigrain Bircher Muesli

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 x pouch Rafferty’s Garden Banana & Apricot Multigrain Baby Breakfast Cereal
  • ½-1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. natural yoghurt
  • handful of berries or diced strawberries
  • ½ tsp chia seeds

Method

  1. Place contents of pouch into a small bowl and pour enough milk over to cover
  2. Place a lid on the bowl or plastic wrap, put in the fridge overnight or for a few hours
  3. Take bowl out of fridge, stir in yoghurt to loosen up mixture (or use milk) and top with chia sees and extra fruit
  4. Nb: can also be made in a container and taken on the go

 

Resources

Christian, M et al 2014, ‘Evaluation of the impact of a school gardening intervention on children’s fruit and vegetable intake: a randomised controlled trial,’ Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, Vol. 11, pp. 99.

Energy Burnt Calculator: http://theblueroom.bupa.com.au/healthier/be-active/energy-burned

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