All to often, we ignore some of the side benefits of activities that we view as work, which can often be silly. For instance, some of us pay to go to a gym to exercise, and then also pay someone to clean the house – paying twice when we could combine the two. Cleaning has been demonstrated to burn calories, maybe not as much as hitting the gym daily, but enough to make a difference. Yard work is much the same, but even more intense, with many yard activities being more beneficial in regards to burning calories than some types of exercise. Here are some yard activities, and the health benefits they have:
Push Mowing – Push mowing provides the same benefits as a brisk walk, but with the added resistance of having to shove around a hefty piece of equipment. A self-propelled model will help you burn off around 320 calories per hour for a 160-pound person, while one that is not self propelled will take more energy. Bonus points for using a reel mower, which will also add calories burned on top of the walking for the effort needed to push and pull the mower. The reel mower will also work your arms, equivalent to using light dumbbells. Compare this to spending an hour walking at a good pace of 4 miles per hour, which burns 302 calories per hour, and doesn’t work the arms.
Mulching – Ever notice that professional landscapers have thick arms? Spreading mulch by hand will do that, as it is the most labor intensive lawn activity. It also works more muscles than the other activities – consider that it combines lifting, walking, and upper body work in one activity. An hour of heavy mulching can burn over 400 calories for a 160-pound person, plus provide some strengthening of your core. For contrast, an exercise such as playing casual racquetball will burn only 20 more calories per hour than mulching.
Raking Leaves – Sure, using a leaf blower may be more efficient, but raking leaves burns roughly 300 calories per hour of work. Raking mainly works your arms, although it can also use the leg and back if it includes activities like bagging and carrying bags of leaves around. An exercise such as moderate calisthenics, for instance, only burns 211 calories per hour.
Weeding – While it may seem fairly mundane, even this activity burns calories, to the tune of around 270 per hour. Compare this to exercise such as tai chi (241 calories per hour) or yoga (151 calories per hour).
So if you’re delegating yard work so you can hit the gym, take a minute and weigh your options. Not only does working in the yard burn the same calories, it gets you out in the fresh air and the sun, instead of running shoulder-to-shoulder on a treadmill in a dank, sweaty gym.