Get Fit: Garden for Exercise

Earn that high-calorie treat with yard work.

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Caffe Latte

Caffe Latte

Like the latte but fear the calories? Rake for an hour and you can enjoy your morning Starbucks guilt-free ... or, just order another.

Like the latte but fear the calories? Rake for an hour and you can enjoy your morning Starbucks guilt-free ... or, just order another.

Hate the gym? No worries - it turns out you can hoe, hoe, hoe your way to weight loss. Multiple recent studies, including 2009 research from Kansas State University, have discovered that gardening can be an excellent source of moderate exercise.

Of course, some gardening tasks are more effective at shedding pounds than others. Here's a breakdown of some common garden jobs and how effective they are as exercise, according to the calorie-burning counter at

  • Raking the lawn for an hour will burn 292 calories, about the equivalent of a Starbucks Grande Cafe Latte (made with whole milk.)
  • Planting seedling shrubs or weeding for one hour will melt away 306 calories, as much as is contained in nearly four glasses of wine. (So once you're done, feel free to celebrate!)
  • Digging or laying sod for an hour burns up 340 calories! That's equal to half a Big Mac, so if you want the whole thing, just dig for another hour.

Gardening may not give you "7 minute abs," but the calories burned while mowing, raking, and planting are nothing to sneeze at. To keep it in perspective, each of these activities burns more than the 224 calories burned per hour by a moderately brisk walk at a 3.0 MPH pace. No wonder I'm always so sweaty at the end of a good weeding or digging session. Next time, I'll stay out there longer and put off the treadmill for another day.

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