4 Gardening Activities That Burn More Calories Than Running A Mile

The health benefits of gardening keep adding up.

June 6, 2017
how gardening keeps you fit-gardening is good exercise

Studies show that gardening reduces stress and anxiety, decreases your risk of diabetes, and keeps your mind sharp. (Read more about the suprising ways gardening improves your health). There’s even evidence that gardeners are happier than other people

It turns out that gardening is also great way to stay fit. The CDC recommends 2½ hours of gardening a week as a way to stay physically active and healthy. And one South Korean study, published in the journal HortTechnology, found that some gardening tasks qualify as moderate- to high-intensity activities—in other words, gardening is a great way to exercise. 


Here are the top 4 gardening tasks for getting buff in the garden, in order of physical intensity. In the strength-building sense, that is. If you want to garden in the buff, you need to wait for World Naked Gardening Day!

(Like what you're reading? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get health insights, clever kitchen tricks, gardening secrets, and more—delivered straight to your inbox.)


Digging and spading deliver resistance training minus the trip to the gym. According to Sherry Rindels, at Iowa State University’s Department of Horticulture, digging “improves muscle strength and endurance as well because a great deal of resistance is involved.” You’ll burn calories while working the soil—in 30 minutes of digging, women burn 150 calories, men 197. (That's more than running a mile—a 150-pound woman running 1 mile in 10-minutes will burn roughly 113 calories.) Digging involves muscles in the upper body, back, and legs. Switch hands every five minutes to give each side of your body a good workout.

Related: Our Top 10 Tools For Working The Soil 


Mulching is one of the best time-saving measures a gardener can take. (Here’s what every gardener should know about mulching). Whether you have a vegetable garden or a flower bed,  mulched gardens are healthier, have fewer weeds, and are more drought-resistant than unmulched gardens, and it allows you to spend less time watering. It also provides an opportunity to lift weights sans barbells. Remember, don’t lift with your back, but with your legs, and bend your knees. 


Mowing the Lawn

Mowing the grass around your garden can deliver physical benefits. You’ll get the highest-intensity workout with a push reel mower. 

Modern push-reel mowers are far more efficient and powerful than old-school versions: two high-performing mowers to consider are the Scotts 200-20 Classic Push Reel Mower ($110) and Fiskars 18 Inch Staysharp Max Reel Mower ($200) 

Whichever one you choose, thirty minutes burns 181 calories for women, 236 for men. 

Related: The Organic Way To Mow Your Lawn 


Weeding doesn't just help your flowers and veggies—30 minutes of weeding burns 138 calories for women, and 181 for men. Reaching for weeds makes you limber, and gives your hamstrings, buttocks, legs and hips a workout, and also helps keep you limber (Here’s the most effective way to remove weeds.)

Tags: fitness