Mowing the lawn may seem like a tedious chore but it can be a great workout. Using a push mower to mow your lawn works not only your cardiovascular system and your legs but also the muscles in your back, shoulders and arms. If done regularly, mowing the lawn will keep your yard looking nice and can help you lose weight.
Mow at a brisk pace to keep your heart rate up. Although mowing tall grass or damp grass may warrant moving a bit slower, walk as quickly as possible while still doing a good job on your lawn.
Use a lawn mower with a bag--as the bag fills up, the mower gets heavier and harder to push. Fill the bag as full as possible before emptying it--the heavier it gets the more calories you'll burn. Emptying the bag will also burn extra calories--you'll have to remove the bag, carry it to the dump spot and then shake it until it's empty. That will get your heart pumping.
Avoid self-propelled mowers, which makes mowing the lawn much easier and less strenuous. Pushing a regular old power mower will burn a lot more calories than one that pulls you along the lawn.
Add extra resistance. Wearing a weighted vest or even ankle weights can make mowing the lawn that much more challenging. The added resistance can help build muscle, which ultimately results in a higher metabolic rate.
Maintain proper posture while mowing. You may be used to pushing your mower by rounding your back and putting your body weight into it.This can be dangerous for your back and is not the most efficient way to burn calories. Adjust your lawn mower handle, if possible, so that it's at a comfortable height. Maintain an upright posture while mowing, using your legs and hips to drive the mower forward.
Be aware of how many calories you burn while mowing the lawn. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, mowing the lawn with a push mower at a moderately light pace requires 4.5 METs (metabolic equivalents), which means you are expending 4.5 times the energy used by your body at rest. If you use one of the methods mentioned above to increase the intensity of your mowing, you may be expending anywhere from 5 to 7 METs.
Calculate how many calories you burn per minute while mowing. If you are working at an intensity in which you are breathing slightly heavier than while simply walking, use 4.5 for the MET value. If you are breathing moderately heavily, use 5.5. If you're breathing quite heavily, use 6 to 6.5. And if you find it difficult to talk, use 7. Use the following equation:
METs x 3.5 x (body weight in lbs./2.2) / 200 = calories per minute
For example, a woman who mows her lawn with a bag mower at a brisk pace and weighs 150 pounds would have the following results:
6 x 3.5 x (150/2.2) / 200 = 7 calories per minute
Determine how much time you spend mowing each week and calculate the total calories burned per week. For example, the woman who burns 7 calories per minute has a front lawn and a back lawn that take her a total of one hour to mow. She mows her lawn, on average, once a week. She would determine her weekly caloric expenditure by multiplying 7 calories per minute by 60 minutes, which gives her 420 calories per week burned during mowing. It would take her approximately 8 weeks to lose one pound if she mows for one hour per week with the same intensity.
- "ACSM's Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, Fifth Edition"; Leonard A. Kaminsky, Phd, FACSM, et al.; 2006
- University of New Mexico: Making Sense of Calorie-burning Claims; Robert A. Robergs, Ph.D., and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.