Saint Peter’s Better Health

Sponsored by Saint Peter’s Healthcare System

When it comes to getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, our options aren’t limited to brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or group fitness classes.

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 we work even harder until we’re breathing fast and our heart rate is up, then it can be a vigorous workout. Here’s how to get going—and growing.

  • Set a good pace. Break down the 150 minutes into as many smaller sessions as needed. Even if it’s 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 the garden makes a difference.
  • Switch it up. Variety is key to reaping a wide range of health benefits from exercise. Alternating gardening activities will makes sure that we get a well-rounded workout while reducing the risk for injury. For example, rake or mow the yard, seed the lawn, pull weeds, trim the plants, pick veggies, and so on.
  • Practice safety first. Making safety a priority prevents injuries that could keep us away from the 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—we’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor all season long.

Think outside the dirt

No yard? No problem. There are many ways to grow fruits, veggies, and herbs even if there’s 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.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/2/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.