Is mowing the lawn a good workout?

Mowing the lawn is a common chore for many homeowners that needs to be done regularly to keep a yard looking tidy. While it may seem like tedious routine maintenance, pushing a lawn mower actually provides some surprising health and fitness benefits. With the right approach, mowing the lawn can be an easy way to incorporate physical activity and a bit of exercise into your routine.

Is mowing the lawn exercise?

Mowing the lawn absolutely counts as exercise! Pushing a mower requires physical effort and burns calories, making it a form of cardio activity. In fact, experts estimate that mowing a lawn burns about 400 calories per hour for a 160 pound person. That’s comparable to other moderate intensity exercises like brisk walking. Mowing the lawn continuously for 30 minutes would burn around 200 calories.

Here’s a look at some of the physical activities involved with mowing and how they engage your muscles:

– Walking behind the mower across the yard uses leg and calf muscles. This improves endurance.

– Pushing the mower engages arm, shoulder and back muscles. This builds upper body strength.

– Guiding the mower over uneven terrain uses core muscles. This improves balance and stability.

– Starting and stopping the mower engages leg muscles to accelerate and slow down. This boosts muscle power.

– Bending and squatting to pick up debris or tree branches works glutes, quads and hamstrings. This increases lower body flexibility.

So mowing the lawn involves a lot more physical exertion than you might expect from a standard household chore!

How does mowing compare to other exercises?

Compared to more intensive workouts, mowing the lawn is considered light to moderate exercise. Here’s how it stacks up against other common physical activities:

– Jogging – Burns about 600 calories per hour. More intense cardio workout than mowing.

– Weightlifting – Burns around 300 calories per hour. Builds more strength than mowing.

– Yoga – Burns about 300 calories per hour. Improves flexibility better than mowing.

– Gardening – Burns about 400 calories per hour. Similar level of activity as mowing.

– Leisurely walking – Burns just 200 calories per hour. Lower exertion than mowing.

– Watching TV – Burns under 100 calories per hour. No exercise benefit unlike mowing.

So while mowing doesn’t provide the same level of cardio and strength training as vigorous exercise like running or lifting weights, it still requires moderately intense physical activity. The exercise from mowing is much better than sedentary behaviors like sitting on the couch.

What muscles does mowing work?

Mowing the lawn is full body exercise that engages all the major muscle groups to some degree. Here are the main muscles worked by mowing:

Quadriceps: The thigh muscles at the front of the leg. Used for walking behind the mower.

Hamstrings: The back of the thigh. Used for pushing the mower.

Glutes: The butt muscles. Used for bending and squatting.

Calves: Lower legs. Used for balance while mowing on uneven ground.

Core: Abdominals and back. Used for stabilizing body while mowing.

Shoulders: Front and rear shoulder muscles. Used for steering the mower.

Biceps/triceps: Front and back of arms. Used for handling the mower.

Forearms: Used for gripping the mower handle securely.

Trapezius: Upper back muscles. Used for prolonged pushing of the mower.

So most major muscle groups get some level of strength training during lawn mowing. It’s not enough to build big muscles, but helps to maintain overall muscle tone and endurance.

Cardiovascular benefits

In addition to engaging muscles, pushing a lawn mower also provides cardiovascular exercise. Walking behind the mower continuously raises your heart rate. This type of moderate aerobic activity provides these heart health benefits:

Strengthens the heart muscle: Makes the heart pump more powerfully.

Lowers resting heart rate: Improves heart efficiency and conditioning.

Improves blood circulation: Boosts oxygen flow throughout the body.

Increases endurance: Allows you to mow longer without getting tired.

Manages blood pressure: Helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Boosts energy levels: Oxygenates the blood to give you more energy.

Even light to moderate cardio like mowing can lower risks for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke when done regularly as part of an overall fitness routine.

How long should you mow for a workout?

To get exercise benefits from mowing the lawn, you’ll want to mow for at least 20-30 minutes continuously. This allows your heart rate to increase and remain elevated in the moderate intensity exercise zone for a sustained period. Less than 20 minutes doesn’t result in significant aerobic activity.

Here are some guidelines for mowing durations to target different goals:

– 20 minutes: Maintains a minimum level of cardio fitness.

– 30 minutes: Provides good cardiovascular and calorie burning benefit.

– 45 minutes: Maximizes the fat burning effects of the workout.

– 60 minutes: Builds greater endurance for seasoned mowers.

Try not to take too many breaks when mowing. Taking 5 minutes rest every 20-30 minutes of continuous mowing is sufficient for most people. The key is keeping your heart rate up.

How often should you mow for exercise?

For beginners, aim for mowing the lawn 1-2 times per week to build a baseline level of fitness. Allow at least a day of rest between mowing sessions to let your muscles recover.

Here are some recommendations for mowing frequency depending on your goals:

– 2-3 times per week: Maintains a moderate activity level.

– 3-4 times per week: Improves cardiovascular fitness.

– 5 times per week: Maximizes strength training benefits.

– Daily mowing: Best for athletes cross-training.

Mowing more than 5 times in a week is not recommended. The heavy yardwork can result in overtraining, especially for older adults or those who are deskbound and less active in daily life. Listen to your body’s limits.

Should you mow faster for a better workout?

Pushing the mower at a brisk pace in the 3-4 mph range will increase the intensity and calories burned compared to leisurely mowing. But take caution not to mow dangerously fast, as that can result in slips, falls and reduced mowing quality.

Here are some tips for increasing your pace safely:

– Use a self-propelled mower for easier pushing.

– Mow in dry conditions without slick grass.

– Mow up and down straight lines instead of zig-zags.

– Wear supportive footwear with good traction.

– Adjust mower settings for maximum speed.

– Take more frequent breaks if needed when mowing faster.

Ramp up your mowing pace gradually over several sessions as your fitness improves. Avoid sprinting across the yard at full speed. Maintaining a moderately intense, brisk pace for your fitness level is best.

Tips for maximizing your mowing workout

Here are some strategies to get the most exercise benefit from mowing:

– Warm up first by walking or marching in place.

– Maintain good upright posture while you mow.

– Stand tall instead of hunching over the mower.

– Keep your core engaged while mowing.

– Swing arms fully front and back.

– Take long strides behind the mower.

– Mow up and down hills or slopes.

– Try pushes ups or squats during brief rest periods.

– Rotate between forward and reverse mowing.

– Stay well hydrated throughout the mowing session.

Focus on maintaining good form. Don’t rush through the mowing at the expense of technique. Proper body positioning maximizes your muscle engagement.

Is mowing the lawn good weight loss exercise?

Mowing the lawn can contribute to weight loss goals, but only in combination with other healthy lifestyle habits. Pushing a mower burns calories and fat, but not enough on its own for significant weight reduction.

Here are some reasons mowing helps support losing weight:

– Burns 200-400 calories per hour of mowing.

– Increases metabolic rate even after mowing is finished.

– Builds muscle mass that raises daily calorie burn.

– Keeps heart rate elevated for fat burning during mowing.

– Part of weekly calorie expenditure goal for weight loss.

To maximize the weight loss benefits, also focus on eating a calorie deficit diet, doing other cardio, and building a strength training routine. Mowing alone won’t make you lose 20+ pounds, but it contributes.

Strengths of mowing as exercise

Some of the great things about getting a workout from mowing include:

– Convenient home exercise built into a chore

– No gym membership required

– Works all major muscle groups

– Provides light to moderate cardio

– Fat burning from continuous activity

– Easy to fit into a busy schedule

– Low skill level required

– Gets you outdoors

– Noise limits need for entertainment like music

– Useful fitness training for many sports

– Improves stamina and endurance

As an easy, accessible activity with multiple benefits, mowing works for most people as part of a balanced fitness routine.

Weaknesses of mowing as exercise

Mowing does have some drawbacks to consider:

– Weather dependent – can’t mow in rain or snow

– Not suitable for high intensity training

– Easier with self-propelled mower

– Increased allergy/asthma risk from pollen

– Limited workout metrics like heart rate

– Requires a yard – no benefit in apartments

– Not recommended for elderly or disabled

– Higher injury risk than gym workouts

– Can’t tailor specific muscle groups

– Harder to increase difficulty steadily

While a beneficial moderate activity, mowing alone is not enough for individuals seeking serious fitness gains. Supplement with other workouts.

Is using a push mower better than a riding mower?

Push mowers require human power, while riding mowers rely on the engine to move. This makes push mowers far better as a workout:

– Pushing engages muscles – riding does not.

– Push mower handles require arm and grip work.

– Walking provides cardio – no such benefit with riding.

– Push mowers involve core strength to maneuver – riding mowers just need steering.

– More overall exertion leads to greater calorie burn with push mowers.

The downside is that push mowers are slower for finishing large yards. But even using a self-propelled push mower gives a better workout than riding.

Best lawn mowing practices for exercise

To maximize your fitness gains from mowing the lawn, make sure to:

– Stretch and warm up before starting.

– Maintain proper posture and form while mowing.

– Use a forward/backward mowing pattern.

– Drink water periodically to stay hydrated.

– Make wide turns to keep heart rate up.

– Wear supportive footwear with good traction.

– Use sunscreen and a ventilated hat.

– Start at a slow speed, then increase intensity.

– Avoid rushing – steady pace is best.

– Monitor your effort level and take breaks as needed.

– Cool down with light walking when finished.

Proper preparation, good technique, pacing yourself, and post-mow recovery helps optimize the benefits while avoiding injury.

Sample mowing workout routine

Here is a sample 45 minute mowing workout routine to maximize calorie burning and strength benefits:

– 5 minutes: Dynamic warm up stretches

– 5 minutes: Wheelbarrow, lunge and squat warm up

– 30 minutes: Continuous mowing at brisk pace
– 10 minutes mowing back and forth
– 5 minute break
– 10 minutes mowing along perimeter
– 5 minute break
– 10 minutes mowing diagonally

– 2 minutes: Push ups – 10 reps

– 2 minutes: Plank hold

– 1 minute: Side planks – 30 seconds each side

– 5 minutes: Cool down and static stretching

Mixing up the mowing patterns keeps it interesting. Integrating cross-training exercises boosts strength gains. Proper warm up and cool down prevents injury.

Can you build muscle mass mowing?

Mowing the lawn can help maintain muscle mass from the resistance provided, but it generally does not build large muscle size on its own. To maximize muscle growth, you need heavy resistance and progressively overloaded weight training.

Here’s why mowing falls short for major muscle building:

– Low weight resistance from mower body

– No increasing resistance as muscles adapt

– Uses endurance muscles, not max strength

– Not enough time under tension for hypertrophy

– Full range of motion not fully stimulated

– Difficult to isolate specific muscles

While mowing helps sustain existing muscle, those seeking big gains in mass or strength need dedicated weight lifting routines. Mowing is better for overall muscle tone and endurance.

Is mowing enough exercise for cardio fitness?

Regularly mowing for 20-30 minutes can help maintain a baseline level of cardiovascular fitness. But for most people, relying solely on lawn mowing is not enough exercise for optimal heart health.

Here’s why mowing should be supplemented with additional cardio:

– Low-moderate intensity only

– Heart rate often stays under aerobic zone

– Infrequent sessions from lawn growing cycle

– Weather constraints limit regularity

– Difficult to adjust intensity over time

– Only works lower body, not full cardio system

Optimal heart health requires frequent, vigorous cardio 4-5 times a week. Mowing helps, but more intense exercises like running, biking, swimming will improve cardiovascular fitness faster.

Recommended additional exercise

While mowing contributes functional fitness, a well-rounded exercise plan should include:

– Aerobic cardio: Running, cycling, stair climbing

– Strength training: Weight lifting, resistance bands, bodyweight exercises

– Flexibility: Yoga, pilates, stretching

– Balance and coordination: Tai chi, agility drills

– Core strength: Planks, medicine ball workouts

– Active recovery: Light walking, swimming, foam rolling

Aim for exercise that gives your body a break from mowing’s repetitive motions. Varying your training maximizes whole body fitness.

Is mowing good cross training for sports?

Mowing the lawn can complement an athlete’s training regimen as a form of cross-training. Pushing a mower works muscles in ways distinct from most sports movements.

Benefits of lawn mowing for athletes:

– Works arm, shoulder and back muscles often underused in sports

– Enhances core strength and endurance from stabilizing body on uneven terrain

– Improves leg strength bilaterally with equal work on both legs

– Develops grip strength from holding mower handle for extended periods

– Increases stamina and cardiovascular endurance

– Allows active recovery when taking a break from normal intense training

Just 1-2 mowing sessions per week helps round out an athlete’s physical abilities while avoiding overuse injuries from repetitive sports motions.

Is mowing good for seniors?

Light mowing can benefit seniors by:

– Providing gentle cardiovascular exercise

– Maintaining coordination and mobility

– Strengthening muscles and bones to prevent frailty

– Supporting physical independence and activity

However, mowing also involves risks of slips, falls and overexertion for elderly adults. Extensive mowing is strenuous and may be too intense for seniors with limited mobility or health restrictions.

Experts recommend older adults follow these lawn mowing tips:

– Use a self-propelled mower for easier pushing

– Start with just 10-15 minutes of mowing

– Mow earlier in the day when it’s cooler

– Wear proper footwear and safety gear

– Take frequent rest breaks as needed

– Stay hydrated and listen to your body’s limits

– Ask for help with mowing if it’s too difficult

Mowing can be good exercise for seniors who modify the activity appropriately for their abilities and fitness level.


While mowing is often viewed as a tedious chore, it provides many benefits as a form of physical activity and exercise. When done regularly for 20-30 minutes, pushing a lawn mower engages all major muscle groups, elevates heart rate, and burns over 200 calories per session.

Mowing qualifies as moderate intensity exercise comparable to other workouts like brisk walking or recreational gardening. It stimulates cardiovascular fitness, muscle endurance, and overall calorie expenditure. While not a complete workout solution on its own, mowing makes for an accessible and functional form of exercise available to most homeowners with a yard.

Making lawn mowing a priority and utilizing good technique allows you to get in shape this summer while also keeping your yard maintained. Turn your chore into an opportunity to boost your physical fitness!

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