How Many Calories Does Raking Leaves Burn?

Fall leaves with rake
Rake leaves so they don't smother your grass. (Image: Elenathewise/iStock/Getty Images)

Fit in a workout without having to pay for a gym membership with fall yardwork. Mulching, planting bulbs to blossom in spring and trimming trees all raise your heart rate moderately as you squat, reach and pull. A treed yard tasks you with serious raking and bagging leaves, too. How many calories you burn depends on your size and how long it takes you to do the job.

Calories Burned Raking Leaves

The more you weigh, the more calories you'll use while raking leaves. A 125-pound person burns about 120 calories raking for a half hour, while a 185-pound person burns 178 calories. Some calculators put the burn rate at a slightly lower rate of just 90 or 139 calories, respectively. To burn the most calories, rake at a rigorous, continuous pace that causes you to break a light sweat and breathe a little heavier than normal.

How Raking Leaves Stacks Up to Other Activity

Raking leaves burns about the same number of calories per half hour as bagging them or planting seedlings. Other yardwork that burns more calories per half hour includes mowing the lawn with a power push mower -- 135 calories for a 125-pound person or 200 calories for a 185-pound person. Mowing with a non-power push mower has the greatest calorie burn, with 165 and 244 per half-hour, respectively.

The calories burned raking leaves is equivalent to walking at a brisk 3.5 mph pace, horseback riding or participating in a stretching yoga class or water aerobics. It uses more calories than a general weight-lifting session or bowling, both of which burn 90 to 133 calories per 30 minutes.

Raking Leaves Counts as Exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity weekly to promote good health. Moderate-intensity exercise includes a brisk walk, stationary bicycling, yoga and household chores, including raking leaves. In the fall, a good weekly session of clearing your lawn prevents your grass from getting snow mold diseases and inhibition of spring growth, as well as boosts your health. Of course, how often you must rake depends on the number of deciduous trees on your property.

Rake Leaves in Addition to Other Movement

If you're trying to lose weight, raking the leaves beats watching football Sunday afternoon -- at least for your weight goals. The more active you can be all day long, the greater the number of calories you burn. Your metabolism gets a boost, and it's easier for you to create a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per week to lose 1 to 2 pounds. Rake leaves in addition to a gym session and other movement, such as washing the car, pacing while on the phone and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Doing your own chores also combats the effects of excessive sitting. A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012 found that prolonged periods of sitting increase your risk of early death, even if you fit in an hour of exercise daily. The more you can be active all day, the better for your health. Skip the leaf blower or paying the neighborhood teen to do the job; rake the leaves, burn the calories yourself and reap the health benefits.

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