When it comes to getting your 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, your options aren’t limited to brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or group fitness classes.
Did you know that gardening—yes, gardening!—is actually a really great workout? In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers gardening and yard work moderate-intensity activity with muscle-strengthening benefits. And if you work even harder until you’re breathing fast and your heart rate is up, then it can be a vigorous workout. Here’s how you can get going—and growing.
Go at your own pace. Break down the 150 minutes into as many smaller sessions as needed. Even if you can fit in only a few minutes of activity at a time, it’s still beneficial. Whether it’s 30 minutes or five minutes, every little bit of digging, planting, and weeding in your garden makes a difference.
Switch it up. Variety is key to reaping a wide range of health benefits from exercise. Alternating your gardening activities will make sure you’re getting a well-rounded workout while reducing your risk for injury. For example, rake or mow the yard, seed your lawn, hoe the soil, pull weeds, trim the plants, pick veggies, and so on.
Practice safety first. Making safety a priority prevents injuries that could keep you away from your garden. Wear gloves to avoid blisters and exposure to fertilizers; apply sunscreen and wear long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats; use insect repellent with DEET; stay hydrated especially on very hot days; and follow instructions on all products and tools.
The best part is—whether biting into a juicy, homegrown tomato or noticing an increase in your stamina—you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor all season long.
No yard? No problem. There are many ways to grow fruits, veggies, and herbs even if you have little to no land. Here are a few innovative ways to garden:
Tower gardens. A tower garden is a self-contained system that uses aeroponics, in which an internal pump pushes water and nutrients upward to nourish plants that grow vertically, indoors or out.
Container gardens. Many plants, such as herbs, tomatoes, and strawberries, grow well in small spaces, such as containers on a patio or window boxes. Just make sure the containers have holes for drainage and plants receive ample sunlight.
Urban or community gardens. Volunteer to work at a garden in your community.