Is Mowing the Lawn an Exercise?

Mid adult man mowing the lawn with a lawn mower
Man pushing lawn mower (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

The next time you need extra motivation to mow the lawn, remember this: trimming your grass can also help you trim your waistline. Pushing your lawn mower acts as an efficient form of cardiovascular exercise, and even comes recommended by the Franklin Institute as a way to work your entire body and improve your heart health. The calorie-burning or metabolism-boosting effects of mowing your lawn vary, depending on your body weight as well as the kind of lawn mower you're using.

Push Power Lawn Mower

Lawn mowers that use an engine to spin the cutting blades are one of the most common kinds of mowers you'll find in hardware and landscaping stores. A 125-pound person who uses such a mower for 30 minutes burns approximately 135 calories. Those weighing 155 pounds burn 167 calories per 30 minutes, and those weighing 185 pounds burn approximately 200 calories during the same amount of time. If you spend 30 minutes raking up the cut grass after mowing, you'll burn an addition 120, 149 or 178 calories for each body weight, respectively.

Hand Mower

Hand mowers don't have an engine and instead rely on your physical pushing strength to spin the cutting blades. Not surprisingly, they offer up a more vigorous cardio workout. The typical 135-pound person using a hand mower for 30 minutes burns approximately 193 calories while someone weighing 175 pounds burns a whopping 251 calories in the same amount of time.

Cardiometabolic Exercise Points

An alternative way to evaluate the efficacy of your cardio workout is via the Harvard Medical School's cardiometabolic exercise system. The CME system measures more than just calories; it tracks how the workout affects your metabolism -- important for long-term weight control -- and heart health. For the best results, most people need to do enough exercise to earn 150 CME points daily. Mowing your lawn for 30 minutes meets this requirement, netting the typical person 200 CME points.

Workout Safety Considerations

While mowing your lawn presents a great way to fit some extra exercise into your routine while also keeping your yard in tiptop shape, it's not without its risks. Always wear sunscreen while doing yard work, as all those minutes exposed to the sun can elevate your risks of skin cancer. Additionally, stay hydrated. The sun's heat combined with the vigorous pushing and pulling of mowing dehydrates you and increases risks of heat stroke.

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