Can Gardening Be Considered Exercise?

June 12, 2023
Can Gardening Be Considered Exercise?

A beautiful garden is good for the soul. Here's how gardening also helps your body.

If you love to putter around your garden or keep your yard in tip-top shape, you'll be happy to know that you're also doing something good for your body – you're exercising.

Digging, weeding, trimming, raking, tilling, lifting and other gardening activities use major muscle groups and burn plenty of calories, too. Besides the aerobic benefits that come from moving your body, gardening is a form of strength training and also helps improve flexibility.

What benefits does gardening offer?

Gardening activities can help you:

  • Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Build stronger bones, muscles and joints
  • Increase flexibility
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood

Can I count gardening towards my weekly exercise goals?

Recommendations for weekly aerobic activity include 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of strenuous activity. Moderate-intensity gardening includes activities that make you sweat and raise your heart rate while strenuous activity will leave you breathing hard and fast. As long as you garden for at least 8-10 minutes at a time, the activity can be counted towards your weekly aerobic activity totals.

Many gardening activities also help strengthen your muscles, such as digging, pushing or lifting. It is recommended that adults do muscle-strengthening activity twice a week.

What precautions should I take when I garden?

  • Warm up. Just like when you do other exercise, take some time to warm up before gardening.
  • Vary your activities. This will help prevent your muscles from getting too sore. It will also engage different muscle groups.
  • Listen to your body. If you're in pain or something doesn't feel right, take a break from the activity. Your muscles may feel tired, but they shouldn't hurt too much.
  • Build up slowly. If you are new to exercising, gradually increase the amount of time you spend gardening.
  • Protect your back. Roll, push or pull heavy loads when possible. When you lift, bend from your knees and use your legs instead of your back.
  • Check with your doctor first. If you're not used to doing strenuous exercise or have a medical condition, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new activity.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 24, 2022

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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