How Many Calories Does Lawn Mowing Burn?

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a Hank Hill-level love affair with lawn mowing. But those with the habits of the “King Of The Hill” will probably enjoy a longer, healthier life than their sedentary pals. While circling the yard in a riding mower burns fewer calories than pushing a reel mower, either method burns calories and gets the job done. Let’s talk about the number of calories mowing the lawn can burn, so you can start using yard work as an excuse to skip the gym. 

Thanks to the level of physical activity it requires, any yard work will provide you with an easy to moderate workout. But calculating the calories burned can be a little tricky. The first factor affecting how many calories you burn on lawn care is your body weight. The heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn. 

For example, according to a Harvard University study, a 135-pound person will burn around 165 calories in 30 minutes of mowing with a manual push (reel) mower. A 185-pound person will burn 244 calories in the same amount of time.

Type of Mower Factors in

A reel mower ups the calorie ante. Credit: Steven Depolo, CC 2.0

Yes, even sitting on a riding lawn mower will stoke a little extra calorie burn, but you’ll only get about one-third the workout of a manual mower. An old-fashioned reel mower is eco-friendly and will give you a vigorous workout. But the amount of time it adds to the job makes it unreasonable for folks with large yards. The happy medium is a gas-powered push mower or a self-propelled mower, both of which require a moderate effort to operate. 

Again, according to the Harvard study, a powered push mower will burn 135 calories off a 135-pound person in 30 minutes. The 185-pounder will burn off 200 calories. 

Your Personal Effort Factor

Even with a push mower, there are people who mow as if their lives depend on it. There are also those who mow like they have all day. The more briskly you move, the more likely you are to get a great workout. Mowing fancy stripes might be just the right challenge if you want to level-up your efforts. Sometimes you don’t have a choice about how much effort you put in. If your yard’s on a slope, you’re going to be working harder. 

Calculating Accurately

You’re going to need to be a good calorie counter to make sure you’re getting the metabolic equivalent of a session at the gym. 

How to Count Calories Burned by Lawn Mowing

  1. Make sure your mower is in good working order.
  2. Find your “power position” if you’re using a push mower — push with your legs, with arms at mid-waist.
  3. Use a step counter, fitness tracker, or timer to measure the length of time you spend mowing.
  4. Mow at a steady, brisk pace, taking as few breaks as possible while staying hydrated.
  5. Use a calorie calculator to tabulate how many calories you burned.

CalorieLab and WebMd are good sources of online exercise calculators that include weeding, raking, and other common types of lawn work — including mowing. Remember to type in your weight for an accurate calculation. 

Additional Health Benefits

For many of us, those precious hours spent outdoors are some of the most beneficial for mental health and wellbeing. The activity of mowing, even with a hand mower, can have a soothing, meditative effect. Completing the task can lower your blood pressure, and the dose of vitamin D you get should be enough to motivate you to get outside and give your turf a trim. 

A Few Precautions

As adults, we should aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, and lawn care can definitely contribute to that goal. However, as we age, we need to be mindful of our bodies. Margaret Martin, a physical therapist with 35 years of clinical experience, cautions, “Those of you with low bone density, osteopenia or osteoporosis, need to pay special attention to how you cut your grass.” She also recommends against getting too active with lawn care immediately after hip or knee surgery. She advises establishing a “power position” behind a push mower. The handle should be sitting somewhere above your hips and below your chest. “Mid-waist is an ideal power position,” and says. “Get your elbows in and push the lawn mower from the legs.” 

Mowing also tightens your core muscles and strengthens your back. Now pat yourself on the back for a good workout and nice-looking lawn!

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Written by Max Mustermann

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

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