By: Daniel Muncey, MPH
Have you ever thought about how your yardwork could be an exercise routine? Whether you are planting flowers or raking leaves there are plenty of physical benefits from a little yard work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate-intensity level activity for at least two and a half hours each week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death. The CDC considers gardening and yardwork a moderate-intensity level activity and gardening and yard work are great ways to incorporate the entire body while exercising. As always, it is a promising idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Read on to learn a few tips to get more physical activity out of your yardwork benefits.
Use a push mower instead of riding mower.
When it comes to cutting your lawn, a big step to your overall health is choosing a push mower (gas or reel) instead of a riding lawn mower. While you might have a larger yard that might require a riding mower, when it comes to push mowers one of the greatest benefits is the ability to increase your daily step count. Studies have shown taking 8,000 steps per day was associated with a 51% lower risk for all-cause mortality compared to those just taking 4,000 steps. Although some push mowers are powered you still get the added benefits of walking on uneven ground and adding more steps to your day.
Try weeding yourself instead of calling a lawn service.
Choosing to get a little dirty and removing those weeds out of your flower beds can be a great form of exercise. Instead of choosing a lawn service to weed your beds, take time to choose weeding to stay active while at home. Establishing new gardening and landscaping routines can help beautify your home and increase your physical activity. The CDC reports an average of 3.5 to 7 kcal/min burn for any gardening or yard work activity. And with stats like that you will be feeling like you just worked out after most yard work activities.
Consider carrying a watering can instead of using a hose to water your plants.
Although you might be tempted to drag the hose around the yard, consider using a watering can instead. Not only will you still be able to water all your plants, but you will be practicing a technique referred to as ‘loaded carry’ along the way. Loaded carries are exercises that involve the act of carrying a weight over a distance. To perform any loaded carry, you simply carry something heavy and start walking with it. You will find physical benefits like core stabilization, grip strength, and even fat loss as you burn those extra calories. Be sure to listen to your body and fill up the watering can to a weight that works for you. As you get stronger and used to carrying the watering can, feel free to fill it up higher, carrying a little more weight in the process.
If you already have your own yard work routine, try to make one minor change to add more physical activity to your day. The goal is to build on your routine with a new healthy habit and any recent changes for your yardwork could have long lasting benefits. Start small and work to implement changes that work for you. Weeding is not for everyone, but you could always spread your own mulch instead as a new yard work routine. Be creative to get the most out of your next day of yardwork.
About the Author: Daniel Muncey, MPH, is a Wellbeing Specialist. He is passionate about helping families and individuals improve their health and wellbeing. Daniel has a background in personal training, community improvement, and wellbeing programming.