Is your day jam-packed with commitments -- work, school, errands, housecleaning, child care? Do you laugh at the notion of even having 30 minutes to fit in an exercise DVD, much less time to run to the gym?
That doesn’t mean you can’t get a good workout every day, just as part of your daily routine. Find out which everyday activities burn the most calories and how you can make them just a little bit more challenging, to raise your fitness level.
Stay Active Outdoors
This is the place where you can really burn some calories and build strength, so don’t hire out all your yard work. “Depending on the season, you can always do something that’s very energy-consuming: shoveling snow in the winter, raking and bagging leaves in the spring, summer, and fall,” says Joshua Margolis, a personal trainer and the founder of Mind Over Matter Fitness in New York City.
How many calories do typical outdoor activities burn? It varies a lot depending on your size (the heavier you are, the more you burn), age (younger people burn more calories), and how much muscle you have (muscle burns more calories than fat). But on average, here’s what you might expect to burn per hour while cleaning up your yard:
- Shoveling snow: 400-600 calories per hour
- Heavy yard work (landscaping, moving rocks, hauling dirt): 400-600 calories per hour
- Raking and bagging leaves: 350-450 calories per hour
- Gardening: pulling weeds, planting flowers, etc.: 200-400 calories per hour
- Mowing the lawn: 250-350 calories per hour
“Raking and bagging leaves is particularly good because you also do a lot of bending, twisting, lifting, and carrying -- all things that can build strength and engage a lot of muscle fibers,” says Margolis. “You just have to be careful to do these things properly, bending at the knees and not straining your back. Gardening is great, too, because you’re constantly getting up and down, stretching, bending, and reaching to pull the weeds.”
How can you amp up the calorie-burning power of your yard work? Go old school, Margolis says:
- Turn in your power mower for a push mower. You’ll probably burn about 100 calories more per hour and it’s better for the environment!
- Exchange electric hedge trimmers for hand-held clippers.
- Make everything a little more challenging. When you bring home plants from the garden store, take them back to the yard one flat at a time rather than stacking them on a wheelbarrow and moving them all at once.
Cleaning house is definitely a calorie burner, but it’s not quite as challenging as most outdoor work, Margolis says. “Unless there’s a new sport I haven’t heard of called speed vacuuming, you aren’t really elevating your heart rate much.”