How Yard Work Activities Stack Up Against Your Favorite Workouts

Doing yard work may not be on your list of exercises to burn calories, but perhaps it should be. Depending on how much you weigh and the type of work you do, you can burn a decent amount of yard work calories every hour.

The number of calories burned gardening is similar to walking at a brisk pace.
Image Credit: Kathrin Ziegler/DigitalVision/GettyImages

The harder you work, the more calories you burn when gardening, digging, raking or doing other yard care activities. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, a person weighing 150 pounds can burn 238 calories per hour while picking fruits or vegetables.

Tip

The exact number of calories burned doing yard work depends on how much you weigh and your level of effort.

Calories Burned Doing Yard Work (per Hour)

Activity

125-pound person

155-pound person

185-pound person

Gardening (general)

270

334

400

Raking, sacking leaves

240

298

356

Mowing lawn (push, power)

270

334

400

Mowing lawn (push, hand)

330

410

488

Weeding

278

344

410

Planting seedlings, shrubs

240

298

356

Planting trees

270

334

400

Digging, spading dirt

300

372

444

Chopping, splitting wood

360

446

532

Carrying, stacking wood

300

372

444

Laying sod or crushed rock

300

372

444

Shoveling snow by hand

360

446

532

Operating snow blower (walking)

270

334

400

Source: Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
The number of calories burned mowing a lawn with a push mower is similar to doing low-impact aerobics.
Image Credit: cjp/E+/GettyImages

Is Doing Yard Work a Good Workout?

If it's a nice day outside or you just really need to tackle some yard work, you don't need to feel guilty for skipping your gym workout. Here's how yard work activities stack up against common exercises, according to Harvard Health Publishing:

Raking or Sacking Leaves:

  • Walking at 3.5 mph
  • Tai chi
  • Water aerobics
  • Stretching
  • Hatha yoga

Gardening; Planting Trees; Operating a Snow Blower:

  • Moderate calisthenics
  • Walking at 4 mph
  • Playing badminton

Digging or Spading Dirt; Carrying Wood; Laying Sod:

  • Walking at 4.5 mph
  • Kayaking
  • Playing softball

Mowing the Lawn With a Push Mower:

  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Playing golf (carrying clubs)

Chopping Wood or Shoveling Snow:

  • Swimming
  • Vigorous weight-lifting
  • Jogging
  • Stair step machine

Related Reading

Consider Individual Differences

The calculations given for the number of calories burned are not exact. It is likely that your weight varies a bit from that used in the calculations, and people typically do not do yard work at a constant rate.

For example, if you rake the lawn more vigorously than another person, you'll burn more calories than that person in the same amount of time. Use the calculations as a general guide.

Get a More Accurate Look at the Calories You Burn

Want to know exactly how many calories you burn doing yard work and other activities? Download the MyPlate app for a customized estimate.

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