couch to five a day selection

Take up our Couch to 5 a Day Challenge

Are you up for our challenge to grow yourself fitter?

Richard Jackson Garden is launching its own health kick – the Couch to 5 a Day Challenge. This not only combines the well-known benefits of gardening to keep you fit, but you’ll also have plenty of healthy fruit and veg that can become part of your five-a-day.

We’re sure most of you have heard of the Couch to 5K Challenge, a running plan for absolute beginners. It was developed to get people off the sofa from in front of the TV, get outside and start running. During these strange and unprecedented times, trying to do anything that improves your health and wellbeing has never been so important. That’s exactly why we launched our own version of Couch to 5k, the Couch to 5 a Day Challenge!

There’s no doubt that growing your own fruit and veg is one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening. Not only do you get to spend time out in your garden, enjoying the fresh air and doing some healthy mild exercise, but you get the extra reward of something delicious to eat!

Swiss chard ‘Rhubarb’

You can’t beat the taste and flavour of freshly picked fruit and vegetables. Both start to lose their flavour, goodness and freshness once they’re picked, and going from plot to plate in a matter of minutes ensures the best flavours, as well as the most nutritious food.

strawberry malling champion
Strawberry ‘Malling Champion’

Our Couch to 5 a Day Challenge Collection contains five brilliant vegetables and fruits – yes, you even get a pudding reward at the end! You’ll get rainbow chard, ‘Charlotte’ salad potatoes, an everbearing strawberry that fruits all summer, an autumn-fruiting raspberry and a reliable cropping blueberry. Don’t worry if you don’t have a veg plot or a large garden, as they can all be grown in containers.

You can find out more and order your Collection here.

The Five-A-Day principle

Fruit and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy, balanced diet and can help you stay healthy. Research shows there are significant health benefits to getting at least five (some scientists say seven) portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. A portion is 80g (2.8oz).

The Five-A-Day campaign is based on advice from the World Health Organization, who recommend eating a minimum of 400g a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

Blueberry ‘Bluecrop’

And it’s important that your five comes from a variety of different fruits and vegetables – and that this variety includes different colours – yellow, red, orange, green, purple. This is because different fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and each colour is created by different important vitamins and minerals.

More health benefits from gardening 

All styles of gardening offer several health benefits. Here are just some of them.

Gardening burns calories. Even mild gardening jobs provide great exercise and will burn off calories. The best calorie burners for every half hour you spend doing them are: digging and shovelling, 150-225 calories; lawnmowing, 135-200 calories, more if you use a hand mower, weeding, 135-205 calories, yes, even weeding is good for you, and not only the satisfaction of getting rid of the little blighters; raking, 100-175 calories. The actual calories burnt, will depend on your weight and how vigorously you do it.

Gardening tones up muscles. Most gardening activities will use certain groups of muscles, some of which you may have forgotten that you actually had! Lawnmowing, raking and forking help tone and build up core abdominal muscles, as well as strengthening arms and shoulders. Hedge trimming helps shape your biceps. Digging and squatting down to lift or move objects or plant bulbs, can help tone thighs and buttocks. But, don’t go mad. It’s far better, and you’ll get more benefit from, doing 30 minutes and then rest or do something else, especially if you’ve been locked in the house over winter and you’re not used to “pumping iron”.

Image: Debi Holland

Gardening protects your heart. Any activity that is energetic enough to leave you slightly out of breath and raise your heartbeat counts as moderate exercise, which can help protect against heart disease. 

But that’s not all. Some gentle gardening out in the sunshine and fresh air will help to relieves stress and lower blood pressure (unless you can’t get that damn mower started!), it will help stimulate the senses, and when you see things growing it instils a sense of achievement and self-esteem. Gardening also keeps the brain busy by providing you with lots of new things that you need to learn. And, of course, being outside in the sunshine, produces the “happy” hormone, vitamin D, which many people are lacking due to being locked inside for so long.Now, we won’t be testing you on how many calories you’ve lost over the challenge or ask when you’ll be entering the next Mr or Mrs Universe competitions, but we hope our Couch to Five a Day Challenge will help with your overall health and wellbeing.

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