A lawn mower in use. But Is Mowing a Good Workout?

Is Mowing a Good Workout?

Lawnmowers have allowed home and other property owners to have beautifully landscaped and crafted lawns for decades. While some people may consider lawn mowing menial labor with no other advantage, this could not be further from the truth. Lawn mowing also offers the unique opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; to shape up your yard while keeping fit. Today’s article focuses on the question, is mowing a good workout.

Yes, it is! There are few, more physically engaging yard activities. Mowing is an excellent workout. Your body uses almost all the muscle groups in the body to operate a lawnmower, ensuring that you get a thorough and engaging workout.

The soreness you feel after mowing the lawn for some time is a testament to the amount of work that it requires. This article will focus on how lawn mowing helps build muscle and burn calories and some tips and tricks. 

Does Lawn Mowing Build Muscle?

First, we must understand how muscles grow in the body. The skeletal muscle is the most adaptable body tissue. Extreme exercise such as weightlifting causes the muscle fibers to undergo trauma, therefore activating the satellite cells outside of muscle fibers. These cells attempt to repair the damage by joining together, and consequently, they increase the muscle fiber.

While some people consider lawn mowing menial labor, it is undoubtedly hard work. Operating a walk-behind push mower is an exercise that uses muscle groups all over the body to push, pull and turn. Resistance moves assist your body in releasing the growth hormone from the pituitary glands, depending on the intensity of the work you have done. 

Below is a comprehensive analysis of the muscles you use when performing the three basic motions of a walk-behind push mower: pushing, pulling, and turning.

  • Pushing

The chest muscles are primarily involved in pushing the mower in a forward motion. The pecs will flex to provide the needed force for propulsion while the muscles of the upper arm, backs of the arm, and triceps lock the forearms in position over the mower and help the pecs. It is important to note that these muscles complement each other and work together to achieve a task.

Other muscles that help move the lawn mower forward over the terrain include hamstrings and quadriceps (leg muscles) that help the glutes. 

  • Pulling 

The muscles on your body’s back receive most of the workload when you pull the mower backward over a patch of grass or rough terrain, while the muscles on the front, while technically still working, receive some rest.

The large muscle that’s covering your back, the latissimus dorsi, does a lot of the work when pulling the mower toward yourself. It works together with some of the upper back rhomboid muscles and the rotator cuff muscles. 

The arm’s bicep muscles and the backside of the deltoid muscles also help in making this move. 

  • Turning

Turning the lawnmower is a more complex action where all the muscles mentioned above come into play. Additionally, you will place extra stress on the core and the muscles involved (the glutes, hips, and abdominals) as well as the adductors on your inner thighs that will help you bring your legs together after the turn.

As seen above, mowing the lawn is an activity that involves all the major muscle groups in the body. Think of how your body feels sore and stiff after mowing for longer periods, such as an hour. To get the best out of using lawn mowing as an exercise, try and make the mowing more intensive such as by mowing for longer periods. 

Does Lawn Mowing Burn Calories?

Yard activity is not the first thing that comes to mind when most people hear about burning calories. It is a term that most people now associate with cardio, strength training, and High-Intensity Impact training. However, yard work such as mowing your lawn may be one of the best methods to get some exercise in your day.

The U.S. Department of (HHS) Health and Human Services recommends that you spend at least 150 minutes on moderate-intensity activities or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity weekly. Note that they don’t recommend an hour of exercise, but of activity. Lawn mowing is a great choice for this. You get or stay in shape while also whipping your lawn up into shape. 

Factors influencing the number of burnt calories while mowing the lawn, including:

  1. The lawnmower Type

The lawnmower will affect the amount of energy you expend and thus the number of calories you burn. A riding lawn mower will use less effort, and you will therefore burn fewer calories. A self-propelled mower will burn even more calories. However, a manually operated mower is an excellent choice if you want to mow the lawn as exercise as it burns the most calories. 

  1. The intensity of your work

The personal effort you put in will also have an impact on the results you get. Your vigor while mowing the lawn will directly affect the number of calories burnt. Mowing slowly and lethargically will hardly get you any encouraging results. However, mowing the lawn while moving at a brisk pace will burn more calories.

  1. Terrain

The makeup of the land you are mowing will also affect the results you will get. For example, mowing an uneven lawn will require more energy than mowing on a perfectly flat piece of land, and therefore use more energy. The same is true for a slope. A sloping land needs more energy to mow successfully than flat land, therefore, burning more calories. 

The grass length also plays a role. If you are cutting through tough and long grass, you will burn more calories than cutting through shorter often-trimmed grass.

  1. Your weight

How much you weigh also influences the number of calories you burn. Heavier people burn off more calories than lighter people. A heavier person mowing the same lawn with the same machine will burn more calories than a less heavy person.

A Harvard study found that a 185-pound person pushing a powered push mower will burn 200 calories in half an hour, while a 135-pound individual will burn off 135 calories in the same amount of time.

So, how do you estimate the number of calories that you have burned?

You can use two methods to calculate the number of calories that you can burn when mowing the lawn. 

Method 1: The rough estimate

Without accounting for any of the factors mentioned above, we can roughly estimate that a 125-pound individual will burn 3.8cal per minute, a 150 pound individual 4.6cal per minute, and a 175 pound individual 5.2cal per minute. 

You can then calculate the calories you burn when mowing the lawn by multiplying it by the time you take to mow. If, for example, it takes a 150-pound individual 45 minutes to mow the lawn, they will have burned (3.8×45 =171) calories.

Remember that this number does not account for the type of mower, the intensity, and terrain, and therefore only gives a rough estimate.

Method 2: Using the MET

While the above method gives a rough estimate, the MET will give you a more accurate figure on the calories burned. The MET stands for the ‘Metabolic Equivalent of a Task.’ The MET is a way of calculating the rate of expending energy relative to mass when performing a specific physical activity.

MET 1 is equivalent to sitting still in a room at room temperature while not actively digesting food. MET 2 is a task that uses twice as much energy as MET 1 and so on. 

Knowing the MET for mowing using different mowers can help you estimate the number of calories you have burned. The METs are as follows.

  • A riding mower – 2.5
  • A self-propelled mower – 4.5-5
  • A regular push mower – 6

To calculate the number of calories burned, multiply the MET by the body weight in kilograms by 3.5/200 by the time in minutes. (MET X Kg x 3.5/200) Min

If you want a moderate-intensity level workout, choose activities whose MET range from 3 to 5.9 and do them for a net period of 30 minutes (not including breaks). 

Can You Lose Weight Mowing Lawn?

Calories are the cornerstone of weight management. It all comes down to the calories you take in against those that you burn off. Calories from the food we eat are what provide the energy needed for our bodies to keep functioning.

Regardless of the food you get your calories from, they are either converted to physical energy or stored in the body as fat. The calories stored as the fat will remain in your body unless you use them, which you can do in two ways.

  • Reducing your calorie intake force the body to draw on these reserves for energy
  • Burn more calories through physical activity 

Lawn mowing is one of the physical activities that are great for burning calories, as explained above. If you mow the lawn often while also being mindful of the calories you consume, then mowing the lawn is an excellent way to lose weight and build muscle. 

How Often Should You Mow Your Lawn?

Mowing your lawn is necessary for keeping it looking healthy and green. Several factors influence the frequency with which you should mow your lawn for the best results, including:

  1. The desired grass length 

it is important to remember that different types of grass have different optimal lengths. Longer grass is much easier to maintain as they grow deeper, and the blade roots are well established. A schedule will be a useful tool in maintaining long and healthy grass.

However, if you miss your schedule and allow the grass to get too long, ensure that you cut off at most a third of the grass. Instead, mow the lawn more frequently as you slowly lower the blades to get back to the optimal length.

Maintaining shorter grass takes a lot more preparation and effort. This care is required because cutting the grass too short can lead to weak roots and bare patches on your lawn. Taking off length all at once can also make the grass go into shock or burn.

To avoid these complications, take the length gradually, and if you do overcut the grass, ensure that you water and fertilize the lawn to minimize the damage and encourage regrowth. 

  1. The environmental conditions

The availability of elements such as sunshine, water, and nutrients will also affect the frequency at which you cut your lawn. The parts of your lawn that receive more direct sunlight, for instance, will grow faster than the parts that are often or always in the shade and subsequently need mowing more often.

The availability of water will also influence the growth rate of your lawn. Say, for example, that you are living in an area that is facing drought conditions, your lawn will grow much slower than a lawn that you water regularly and therefore require less mowing. The same is true for nutrients. Using fertilizer can result in a healthier and faster-growing lawn.

The time of year is also another factor to consider. If you are in a cold area, your lawn will likely not grow very much, if at all during the winter. During this dormant period, you will not need to worry much about mowing the lawn. 

  1. The type of grass.

The grass type and its growth pattern will also influence how much you need to mow your lawn. There are two main types of grasses to consider, warm-season grasses and cold-season grasses.

Warm-season grasses grow the most in the summer, while cool-season grasses grow the most in spring and autumn. These grasses grow more depending on their season, and you may need to increase the frequency of mowing accordingly. 

Also, we recommend that you trim warm-season grasses when they attain a height of two inches and cool-season grasses when they reach a height of three and a half inches. Apart from this broad categorization, the specific type of grass will have an even greater influence on mowing frequency. 

  1. The one-third rule

The most popular advice for maintaining a healthy lawn is the one-third rule, which advises against cutting away more than one-third the height of the lawn. Cutting your lawn too short can be just as if not more damaging as allowing the grass to grow too tall.

When you remove too much grass at one time, the grass is at a higher risk of browning. The browning happens since the tender part of the grass blade is exposed to the sun and burns more easily.

The standard rule is to avoid cutting more than a third of the leaf blade. Abiding by this rule generally means mowing the lawn at most once a week. Be consistent with your mowing schedule, but do not cut off more than a third if you allow it to grow too long. 

Does Mowing the Lawn Burn More Calories than Walking?

Different factors also influence the number of calories that you burn while walking. Things such as your pace, weight, and the terrain you are walking on influence the calories you burn. 

The MET values for walking at different speeds are lower than those of mowing a lawn, as shown below:

  • Slowly – 2.0
  • At 3.0 mph – 3.0

According to a Harvard Health publication, in 30 minutes, lawn mowing burns more calories than walking at a low pace of about 3.5 miles per hour.

How Much Weight Do You Lose Mowing the Lawn?

As mentioned above, lawn mowing is a great activity for anyone who wants to lose weight. But how much weight can you burn off by mowing the lawn? Weight is a careful balancing of calories; how many you consume and how many you burn off. 

We have seen how to calculate the calories you would lose from mowing the lawn. As a standard, if you cut 500 to 1,000 calories daily from your diet, you can lose approximately one pound weekly. Note that the weight loss process is not as simple and involves losing fat, water, and lean tissue. 

Assuming you were using a regular push mower daily (which has a MET of 6) for 1 hour, and you weighed 90 kilograms, you would burn approximately (6 x 90 x 3.5/200×60) 567 calories, which would be around a pound a week!

Final Thoughts

With the factors mentioned above, you can fine-tune your lawn mowing sessions to get the maximum rewards from them. You can even use it to replace one of your normal workout sessions with the added benefit of getting some work done around the house. Still, the question remains,

Is Mowing a Good Workout

Yes! Mowing is an excellent workout. You can also add mowing to your workout regimen to break the monotony of the repeated sessions. With enough personal effort, you can reap the rewards.

We appreciate you for reading our article, and we hope that it has been informative. You are welcome to leave a comment, suggestion, or any question you may have in our comment section below.

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