Fitness Articles

Work Out with Yard Work

Your Yard & Your Body Will Thank You!

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Ask anyone who has spread mulch in their yard, and they’ll tell you that yard work is quite the workout! Whether hauling mulch, spreading soil, raking leaves, or pulling weeds, you’re guaranteed to break a sweat. That's because gardening works all your major muscle groups. Even something as simple as planting flowers involves squatting, which engages your legs for support, your core muscles for balance, and your arms and shoulders for digging.

That's just one example of how working outside can give you a workout! As the spring weather rolls in, it’s the perfect time to get outside and garden—you'll transform your yard and your body (by burning extra calories and working those muscles).
By using the outdoors as your own personal gym you'll rake-in the benefits! Fresh air is always uplifting, especially in the springtime. Being outside is a great way to relieve stress and relax. Plus, sunshine helps boost Vitamin D production, which aids in the absorption of calcium.

Heavy yard work is a great way to add variation to your regular exercise program, while light gardening can be great for exercise beginners. If you do yard work as a way to burn calories, take full advantage of what the great outdoors have to offer:
  • Use a push mower instead of a riding tractor. This adds intensity so that you're working harder, elevating that heart rate, and burning more calories.
  • If you are raking up leaves, change the movement and direction to make full use of your muscles. Rake in front of your body to target your shoulders. Rake both right to left and left to right to work both arms evenly. This way, you'll help prevent blisters by avoiding repetitive motions too.
  • If you're using a wheelbarrow to haul yard waste, soil, or mulch, take an extra loop or two around your garden before you set your goods down.
  • When digging, switch back and forth between hands so that you are utilizing both arms.
  • Instead of using a small watering can, heave the heavy hose around the yard with you. You’ll also have to use those muscles to put it away and wind it up when you're done. Continued ›
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About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

Member Comments

  • Thanks for the article. My yard is my joy. I can't wait to get out there and plant new things. Keeping it clean and nice. - 9/25/2013 3:44:56 PM
  • So true! I use a push mover and the kids in the neighborhood are intrigued as they have never seen one. I love to garden, not only for the end result, but it's my after work stress release! - 1/19/2012 8:11:36 AM
  • Totally agree with this article.
    I'm an avid gardener and can't wait for the spring weather to set in here in the UK.
    I see a bit of sunshine and positvely crave to get out in the garden and get stuck in! - 1/19/2012 7:04:43 AM
  • NEW1964
    I agree with the author completely. I usually do a marathon of tasks (4-6 hours at a time) in my garden for one day of the weekend. Tend to take 15 to 30 minutes breaks between tasks. Also switch tasks quite frequently so that I don't overtax any one muscle group. Have learned that if I bike or walk 30 minutes at least 3 times during the week, my weekend sessions go much better with minimal soreness to my muscles. Also stretching my upper body prior to beginning helps tremendously with back and arms. Putting down mulch, digging holes and transplanting plants is tough work. I also tend to do most things manually. Takes longer but gets in a few more calories.

    This year I am growing tomatoes (roma & grape), basil and marjoram only. Possibly edible flowers. However, I always add a new perennial herb to my garden. Last year it was lovage. Although not a perennial may add italian parsley this year.

    Gardening keeps me sane and lets me reduce the stress from my hectic work week. But the skeeters are a pain in the bee-hind!! - 5/24/2011 7:42:47 AM
  • I just bought some tulip and daffodil bulbs. I will feel much better planting them and clearing my flower bed now that I'm killing two birds with one stone. I can have a beautiful yard, mind and body! - 9/30/2010 6:37:15 PM
  • Working in the yard, especially clearing a fence line or hauling mulch, is an excellent work out. Plus, it brings the added benefit of home/yard improvement, which is not something that can be said about treadmills, weight lifting, etc. - 8/31/2010 3:40:09 AM
  • I live in a high fire danger area next to open space behind and next to my house. Last year I cleared away over 50 feet of sagebrush on both sides of the house using just a shovel. It became my workout in addition to my bike riding. I think I lost at least half of my pounds just clearing the hill. - 6/20/2010 1:55:09 PM
  • GR8FLGRDNR
    Gardening and yard work are joys for me. I am happiest when I am outside digging in the soil or lugging something around or moving a plant or putting a new one in, you get the idea. Tomorrow I'm planting two trees and several perennials. I'll be dirty and tired afterward, but the reward of seeing them grow over the years and beautify our yard is well worth some dirt and a few aches...for me at least. - 3/21/2010 12:27:37 AM
  • Just a reminder that if you are working outside, don't drink from the hose unless it is rated for potable water, like the ones used to fill motorhome tanks. Of course, I used to drink gallons from the hose as a kid but I now know it isn't particularly safe. - 12/31/2009 2:25:11 PM
  • It's fall now. I live in an apartment & I'm able to have a flower garden but all of the heavy yard work is done by my landlords. One of them does landscaping & stuff on the side. But that's okay. I'm really not in shape for too much heavy work. But next spring I'm going to have a bigger garden.

    Kathy - 10/27/2009 2:36:03 AM
  • JAL138
    I live in an apartment myself but I love the opportunity to break my urban running routine and get out into the country to help in my grandmother's garden. It's a fun workout, a great change of scene and she feeds me too! - 9/11/2009 8:31:54 AM
  • This summmer is my first attempt at gardening. I love it. Getting out there in the yard and digging in the dirt really does it for me. I'm growing veggies that I am looking forward to eating soon. - 8/6/2009 3:22:17 PM
  • gardening is not for everyone that is why it is only a suggestion, I personally love it anything to get outsid instead of in front of tv, even just to walk around and water grass is better than sittin on the couch watching tv. Its a good way to meet your neighbors as well they will be curious to see what you are doing everytime they see you out there.. trust me.. - 6/2/2009 7:39:23 AM
  • My yard is such a huge job to maintain, even for the three of us, the last thing I need is suggestions on how to make it harder! - 1/29/2009 10:26:08 PM
  • I always get discouraged and angry when I do yardwork. I hate getting dirt all over, I sneeze a lot, my arms get rashes from the weeds and bushes, I get all scratched up from the vines and blackberries, my back hurts really bad, and then I don't have a good place to put all the clippings and whatnot so it all piles up in another part of the yard. I might give it another go this year with the exercise goal in mind. - 1/29/2009 3:33:01 PM
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