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Gardening as Exercise

By Paul James

Last Sunday I spent six hours in the garden, planting 60 hills of potatoes, 80 leeks, and 120 onions, among other things. Monday morning I had a tough time getting out of bed. But I must say the discomfort I felt was strangely gratifying, because not only did I get a lot of gardening done, I also burned a lot of calories. Just how many calories, you ask?

Probably a lot more than you might have guessed. Consider this: Ten minutes of shoveling burns as many calories as ten minutes on the treadmill at high speed. While shoveling – or raking or weeding – you experience a range of motion unlike any traditional exercise routine. And all that bending and stooping and twisting is good for muscles and joints, assuming you’re in decent shape to begin with and don’t overdo it.

So here’s a look at how many calories you can burn per hour while performing a variety of gardening tasks.

Now, someone who weighs 125 pounds won’t burn as many calories as someone who weighs 185, but any way you slice it, you’re burning calories and building muscle strength.

I calculated that last Sunday I probably burned about 1,000 calories, or roughly the number of calories in an incredibly large slice of cheesecake, which I ate later that evening, followed by two Aleve PM.

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4 responses to “Gardening as Exercise”

  1. Meg says:

    Aleve and a shot of Bushmill’s Irish whiskey is my go to for those first days of gardening after winter’s rest!

  2. Kevin "The Bad Back Gardener" says:

    Yes, I have felt the painful evening hours and next day hard to move feeling after a day in the garden, but it is a satisfying pain for sure. Nice article Paul, as I never really seen any numbers as you show to go along with how much of a workout gardening can be. Wish I could be planting here in PA already but spring will come. (too slow for my taste mind you). Look forward to more articles Paul!
    YouTube Channels – Kevin "The Bad Back Gardener"

    • Paul James says:

      Thanks, Kevin. Fortunately, I’ve never had back issues, but I’ve got plenty of friends who do. I’ll check out your YouTube channel.