5 March 2019Burning Calories with Outdoor Chores

Need ideas for burning calories while you get outdoor chores done? My three favorite outdoor chore calorie-burners are:

  1. Shoveling
  2. Weeding
  3. Mowing

Where I live, the month of March can mean anything in terms of weather. One week I am getting my new garden ready for planting whereas the next I might be dealing with a snow storm. As I write this post, a snow storm is starting to hit my area. This means at least two rounds of shoveling. I used to gripe about shoveling snow since it meant taking precious time away from my busy schedule. But I stopped complaining once I realized what a great calorie burner it is - far higher than my moderate-intensity walk. That made me think about other outdoor chores that are good calorie burners. I don't routinely replace planned exercise with outdoor chores but I do use them for back-up calorie burners as well as supplemental calorie burners.

The outdoor activities I am including in this post include both warm-weather and cold-weather chores. See the Compendium of Physical Activities for more ideas. In that list, the higher intensity activities have higher MET levels. If you are aiming for "moderate-intensity" level, choose activities between 3 - 5.9 METS and perform them for 30 minutes of net time (that is, actual move time not including breaks). Moving more is beneficial, so even lower MET activities are helpful. Higher MET activities have the benefit of greater calories burning per minute. All activities listed in the Compendium are available for tracking in MyNetDiary. To learn more about METs, read Indoor Chores that Will Help You Burn Calories.

1. Shoveling

Shoveling snow by hand is a great calories burner. To get my driveway and walkway completely cleared at a moderate pace, it takes me an hour without breaks. Based upon my weight (130 lb), MyNetDiary tells me that I burn 266 calories when I log 1 hour of "Shoveling snow by hand moderate effort." Wow! That's pretty good considering I only burn 155 calories for 1 hour of walking. If you are pretty strong and can shovel fast and efficiently, then your calories burn will be higher - choose "Shoveling snow by hand vigorous effort." If you ride a seated snow blower, then don't log that as exercise.

2. Weeding

If you have a lawn or garden, then you know how important it is to weed regularly so that they don't run amok. Think of the thistle - pleasant and painful to pull once they mature in what feels like lightning speed. The good news is that weeding is a good calories burner, even if done at a light pace. It's the leaning over and pulling action that helps burn calories. MyNetDiary tells me that I burn 155 calories when I log 1 hour of "Weeding, cultivating garden, light-to-moderate effort." If I am in a bad mood and take it out on the weeds, then I can ramp up that calories burn to 248 calories/hour when I log "weeding, cultivating garden, using a hoe, moderate-to-vigorous effort." And it feels good to pound out a bad mood! I always feel better after I weed.

Gardening supplies and tools to make weeding more pleasant

  • Gardener's gloves
  • Gardener's knife (hori hori)
  • Gardener's kneeling pad
  • Weeding hoe

3. Mowing

Even if you push a power lawn mower, mowing burns a decent amount of calories and burns more than just walking. After all, you are walking while pushing or pulling a weight. If I log 1 hour of "Mowing lawn, power mower, light or moderate effort," I burn 217 calories. If your lawn is not level or you let the grass grow too tall, then you can expect to burn even more calories. In that case, log "Mowing lawn, walk, power mower, moderate or vigorous effort." If I decided to use a mower that is not powered, then I can burn 310 calories per hour. If you have a seated riding mower, then don't log that as exercise.

Other outdoor chores that burn a lot of calories

  • Chopping wood
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Digging dirt or sand
  • Laying crushed rock, gravel, or pavers
  • Painting outside of home or shed
  • Picking fruit off trees
  • Raking leaves

Tip: Be sure to stay hydrated and wear a hat when working outdoors in either hot or cold weather. This will help you stay more comfortable as well as lessen sun exposure.

When I rethink my outdoor chores as opportunities for supporting my health, burning calories, and working out a bad mood, I find that those chores become activities that I don't mind doing. Also, when I am done, my lawn and garden look really nice and that makes me happy.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Exercise/Aerobic & Cardio Exercise/Tips Weight Loss/Weight Loss Tips & Quips

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