Are mowing and weeding exercise? How to use outdoor chores to burn a ton of calories

  • 2 Minutes Read
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Just how much exercise comes from mowing the lawn or weeding the flowerbeds? This post will give you the good news on calories burned from outdoor chores.

Are mowing and weeding exercise

You can get some great exercise while working in the yard and garden. My three favorite outdoor chore calorie-burners are:

  1. Mowing
  2. Weeding
  3. Shoveling

Where I live, spring can mean anything in terms of weather. One week I am getting my new garden ready for planting, while the next I might be dealing with a snowstorm. I used to gripe about shoveling snow since it meant taking precious time away from my busy schedule. But I stopped complaining once I realized what a great calorie burner it is-far higher than my moderate-intensity walk. That made me think about other outdoor chores that provide exercise. I don't routinely replace planned exercise with outdoor chores. Still, I do use them for back-up calorie burners and to supplement my goals.

The outdoor activities in this post include both warm- and cold-weather chores. See the Compendium of Physical Activities for more ideas. In that list, the higher intensity activities have higher MET (metabolic equivalent of task) levels. If you are aiming for a "moderate-intensity" level, choose activities from 3 to 5.9 METs and perform them for 30 minutes of net time (that is, actual move time, not including breaks). More movement is beneficial, so even lower MET activities are helpful with increased motion. Higher MET activities benefit you with more calories burned per minute. All activities listed in the compendium are available for tracking in MyNetDiary. To learn more about METs, read Indoor Chores that Will Help You Burn Calories.


Even if you push a self-propelled lawnmower, mowing burns a decent amount of calories and burns more than just walking. After all, you are walking while pushing or pulling a weight. MyNetDiary's database identifies a self-propelled mower as a power mower. If I log 1 hour of "mowing lawn, power mower, light or moderate effort," I burn 217 calories.* If your lawn is not level or you let the grass grow too tall, you can burn even more calories. In that case, log "mowing lawn, walk, power mower, moderate or vigorous effort." If I decided to use a push mower that is not self-propelled, then I can burn 310 calories per hour.* If you use a seated or standing riding mower, then don't log that as exercise.


If you have a garden or flowerbeds, then you know how important it is to weed regularly so that they don't run amok. Think of the annoying thistle-unpleasant and painful to pull once they mature. The good news is that weeding is a good calorie-burner, even if done with light effort. It's the leaning over and pulling action and frequent squats that help burn calories. MyNetDiary reports that I burn 155 calories* when I log 1 hour of "weeding, cultivating garden, light-to-moderate effort." Perhaps I'm in a bad mood and take it out on the weeds. I can ramp-up the calories burned to 248 calories/hour* when I log "weeding, cultivating garden, using a hoe, moderate-to-vigorous effort." And it feels good to pound out a bad mood! I always feel better after I weed.

Gardening supplies and tools to make weeding a bit more pleasant and productive-


Shoveling snow by hand is a great calorie burner. To get my driveway and walkway completely cleared at a moderate pace, it takes me an hour without breaks. Based upon my weight (130 lb), MyNetDiary tells me that I burn 266 calories* when I log 1 hour of "shoveling snow by hand moderate effort." Wow! That's pretty good considering I only burn 155 calories* for 1 hour of walking. If you are pretty strong and can shovel fast and efficiently, then your calories burned will be higher. Choose "shoveling snow by hand vigorous effort." Snowblowing also burns calories when you log "operating a snowblower, walking and pushing," but if you ride a seated snowblower or plow, then don't log that as exercise.

*Calories burned based on individual user profile data. Results will vary.

Other outdoor chores that burn a lot of calories:

When I think of my outdoor chores as opportunities for supporting my health, burning calories, and working out a bad mood, those chores become activities that I don't mind doing. Also, when I am done, my lawn and garden look wonderful, which makes me happy.

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Updated: May 27, 2020

Exercise->Aerobic & Cardio Exercise->Tips Weight Loss->Weight Loss Tips & Quips
May 27, 2020

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