Fitness Articles

Work Out with Yard Work

Your Yard & Your Body Will Thank You!

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.
You may have experienced some aching muscles after working outside in the past, but there are actually several things you can do to prevent this soreness while still enjoying the outdoors:
  • Yard work utilizes your major muscle groups just like any workout. So, always warm up first by simply taking a short walk around your yard or down the block to get the blood flowing to your muscles.
  • Then, try some light stretches for your hamstrings and lower back (especially if you'll be doing a lot of bending).
  • It’s a good idea to take a few breaks throughout the day to drink some extra water and do some additional stretching.
As an active gardener, you can grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables! Ask you local gardening center about setting up a pot for tomato vines or green peppers. There is nothing better than fresh, homegrown produce to motivate you to eat healthier.

Grow! Enjoy the outdoors. Weed, mulch, dig and rake. Try all of these activities, get your hands in the dirt, and include yard work as a part of your healthy lifestyle.

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Member Comments

  • I joined SP in 2009. I can't remember when I added gardening to my fitness tracker, but it's there along with raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc. I took a screen print but don't know how to add that to comments.
  • I like doing hard work but it does make you sore.
  • I've gone over the Fitness tracker sometime ago and figured out a way to count yard work (maybe using slightly different terms). Also, I seem to recall it is possible to write in our own goals/exercise. Sorry I can't be more specific. I am not doing well at tracking lately and this is something I want to get back to.
  • I do yard work every week. Some of it is quite strenuous. You have this great article, now could you please make it an option on the fitness tracker?
  • SUCCESS140
    I do yard work every weekend. Could someone please add it to the tracker?
    Nothing feels as good as a long soak in a tub of hot water and epsom salts at the end of the day of gardening.
  • NAN130155
    Ok I know it is a work out and an half but why cant I find a calorie spend on the exercise tracker for any of it?
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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!!
  • 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!
  • 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.

About The Author

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