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Sin-Ae Park, Kwan-Suk Lee and Ki-Cheol Son

The objective of this study was to determine the exercise intensities of 15 gardening tasks in older adults using a portable indirect calorimeter. Twenty older Korean adults (16 females, four males) older than 65 years of age (average 67.3 ± 2.7 years) were recruited from the community of Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea. The subjects visited a garden created for the study at Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea, three times and performed a total 15 gardening tasks. Subjects wore a portable calorimetric monitoring system (Cosmed K4b2) with telemetry that allowed measurement of oxygen consumption as they conducted each gardening task over a 5-min period and during a subsequent 5-min rest period while seated on a chair between each task. Their heart rate was also continuously measured using radiotelemetry (Polar T 31) during the test. The gardening tasks performed were of low to moderate intensity physical activities [1.7–4.5 metabolic equivalents (METs)]. Tasks using both upper and lower body (e.g., digging, fertilizing, weeding, raking, tying plants to stakes) required moderate-intensity physical activity (3–4.5 METs); those using the upper body while standing or squatting (e.g., pruning, mixing soil, planting seedlings, sowing, watering using a watering can or hose, harvesting) were low-intensity physical activities (1.7–2.9 METs); and tasks requiring limited use of the upper body while standing (e.g., filling containers with soil, washing harvested produce) were the least demanding physical activities of the gardening tasks tested. The results will allow more precise tailoring of gardening activities of older individuals to achieve appropriate levels of activity for good health.

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Sin-Ae Park, A-Young Lee, Kwan-Suk Lee and Ki-Cheol Son

The objective of this study was to determine the exercise intensities of 10 gardening tasks for men and women in their 20s. Fifteen university students [(mean ± SD) age 24.7 ± 1.4 years and body mass index 23.5 ± 4.1 kg·m−2] participated in this study. On two occasions, the subjects completed 10 gardening tasks in a high tunnel and a grassy area with weeds located near the high tunnel in Cheongju, Chungbuk, South Korea. They performed five gardening tasks randomly ordered on each occasion. Subjects did each gardening task for 5 minutes and then sat and rested in a chair for 5 minutes before the next task. Each subject wore a portable telemetric calorimeter and respired into the facemask during the gardening tasks and resting periods to measure their oxygen uptake. The subjects also wore a heart rate monitor under their breast to record heart rate data during the gardening tasks and resting periods via radiotelemetry. The 10 gardening tasks performed by the subjects were determined to be moderate- to high-intensity physical activities [3.5 ± 0.5 to 6.3 ± 1.2 metabolic equivalents (MET)]. In conclusion, the exercise intensity of gardening tasks should be useful information for developing garden exercise programs that meet the recommended physical activity for health benefits in adults.

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Sin-Ae Park, Ho-Sang Lee, Kwan-Suk Lee, Ki-Cheol Son and Candice A. Shoemaker

The metabolic cost of 10 gardening tasks was measured in children to determine the exercise intensities associated with these tasks. Seventeen children [(mean ± sd) aged 12.4 ± 0.7 years and body mass index 21.6 ± 4.0 kg·m−2] participated in this study. The children performed the 10 gardening tasks at a garden previously established in Cheongju, Chungbuk, South Korea. They visited the garden twice and performed five different tasks on each visit. Five minutes were provided to complete each gardening task and a 5-minute rest was allowed between each task. The children wore a portable telemetric calorimeter and a heart rate monitor for measurement of oxygen uptake and heart rate during the gardening tasks. The results show that the 10 gardening tasks represented moderate- to high-intensity physical activity for the children [4.3 ± 0.5 to 6.6 ± 1.6 metabolic equivalents (MET)]. Digging (6.6 ± 1.6 MET) and raking (6.2 ± 1.5 MET) were high-intensity physical activities, and digging was more intense than the other gardening tasks performed in this study (P < 0.05). Tasks such as weeding (5.8 ± 1.1 MET), mulching (5.5 ± 1.3 MET), hoeing (5.3 ± 0.7 MET), sowing seeds (5.0 ± 1.1 MET), harvesting (4.8 ± 0.6 MET), watering (4.6 ± 1.1 MET), mixing growing medium (4.4 ± 0.6 MET), and planting transplants (4.3 ± 0.5 MET) were moderate-intensity physical activities. The MET data for the gardening tasks will facilitate the development of garden-based exercise interventions for children, which can promote health and physically active lifestyle.

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Sin-Ae Park, Sae-Room Oh, Kwan-Suk Lee and Ki-Cheol Son

This study used electromyographic analysis to investigate specific upper limb and hand muscle activation during 15 common horticultural activities. A total of 30 Korean adults between the ages of 20 and 30 years, with an average age of 24.8 years, were recruited from Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea. Electromyographic measurements were made using a portable four-channel electromyograph. Bipolar surface electromyography (EMG) electrodes were attached to six upper limb muscles (i.e., upper trapezius, triceps—long head, biceps brachialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, flexor carpi radialis, and brachioradialis) and two hand muscles (i.e., thenar eminence and hypothenar eminence) on the dominant hand. These eight muscles that were selected play a major role in the operation of upper limbs and hand muscles for upper body low-impact activities. Each participant did the 15 horticultural activities on one occasion with two separate sessions. Each activity was performed for 60 seconds followed by a 15-second rest period sitting at a table on a height-adjusted chair between each activity. All eight muscles measured were used together during most of 15 horticultural activities. Upper trapezius, thenar eminence, and hypothenar eminence had higher muscle activity than the other muscles. Triceps—long head displayed very low EMG values compared with the other muscles. The EMG data will facilitate developing scientific and research-based gardening intervention and/or horticultural therapy programs for improving physical health and physical rehabilitation.