Want to keep fit but you're short on time? Then you might want to take a look at the number of calories burned mowing the lawn or doing gardening work in general. These activities may reduce stress, boost your endurance and help you get leaner.
The number of calories burned mowing the lawn depends on your weight and the type of mower. A 185-pound person who uses a hand-operated mower can expect to burn about 244 calories in just 30 minutes.
Does Gardening Count as Exercise?
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity per week. As your endurance increases, you can build your way up to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity each week.
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As you see, the HHS uses the term "physical activity," not "exercise." Physical activity isn't limited to running, jogging, playing tennis or lifting weights. It also includes daily activities, such as gardening or house chores.
This may come as a surprise, but you can burn massive calories cutting the grass. Plus, it's a good way to relax, build your cardiovascular endurance and save money, points out Southeastern Med.
The energy burned while mowing the lawn can be measured in METs (metabolic equivalents). One MET is the energy you expend at rest, according to the American Council on Exercise. An activity with a MET value of 10 requires your body to use about 10 times more oxygen than it would while at rest, leading to a higher calorie burn.
Lawn mowing requires a moderate-to-vigorous effort and has a MET value of 5. Gardening, in general, boasts a MET value of 3.8. High-intensity circuit training, by comparison, has a MET value of 8. The MET value of brisk walking is 4.3.
These numbers indicate that lawn mowing is a good way to burn calories and keep fit. Sure, it doesn't have the same benefits as strength training, but it counts toward your daily dose of exercise. Over time, it can help you get stronger and make it easier to maintain your weight, notes Michigan State University Extension.
Gardening promotes mental health and relieves stress, which is a trigger for emotional eating. Therefore, it may help you relax and improve appetite control.
Calories Burned Mowing the Lawn
The number of calories burned mowing the lawn depends on several factors, including your weight and how much effort you put in. Using a manual mower requires more effort and hence burns more calories than cordless electric mowers.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person can expect to burn about 205 calories cutting the grass with a hand mower for 30 minutes. Energy expenditure increases to 244 calories for a 185-pound person.
If you weigh 155 pounds and use a power mower, you'll burn around 167 calories in half an hour. A 185-pound person will torch approximately 200 calories.
Michigan State University Extension recommends changing the activity you do every 15 to 30 minutes to boost your energy expenditure and engage more muscles. For example, you could mow the lawn for 15 minutes and do weeding for another 15 minutes. Consider using foam pads, knee pads and other gardening accessories to stay comfortable.
Lawn Mowing vs. Other Activities
Surprisingly, lawn mowing torches more calories in 30 minutes than bowling, billiards, volleyball or golf. It's also more effective than walking at a slow pace (3.5 miles per hour) for half an hour, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Outdoor activities, in general, burn serious calories. Shoveling snow by hand, for instance, can help you burn 180 to 266 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your weight. Chopping wood, lifting bags of mulch and trimming shrubs all burn calories. Plus, they get your heart rate up, leading to greater endurance and improved cardiovascular fitness.
Read more: Easy Ways to Burn 100 Calories
As with any kind of exercise, make sure you warm up before getting started. Stretch your muscles for a few minutes and watch your posture when doing gardening work. Keep your back straight and use proper form when pushing the mower or pulling out weeds. These preventive measures may help lower your risk of back pain and injuries.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- Southeastern Med: "5 Benefits of Mowing Your Own Lawn"
- American Council on Exercise: "5 Things to Know About Metabolic Equivalents"
- Michigan State University Extension: "Does Gardening Contribute to Daily Physical Activity Recommendations?"
- Michigan State University Extension: "What Are the Physical and Mental Benefits of Gardening?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Struggling With Emotional Eating?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"