Why raking leaves and other outdoor chores are great exercise

Sometimes, the best kind of exercise happens when you don't even know you're getting a workout. Autumn is an excellent time for some of these "hidden" workouts, because there's typically plenty of yard work and maintenance things to do around your home. 

Raking leaves is just one of these hidden exercises. Why? When you rake leaves, aside from filling your lungs with fresh air, you will also work the major muscle groups in your back, shoulders, arms and legs, as well as improving your cardiovascular health by raising your heart rate. In just 30 minutes of raking leaves, you can burn around 150 calories! Just thirty minutes of raking and squatting to scoop the leaves up and transport them fits into the CDC's recommended daily exercise for adults of 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.

However, you probably don't have enough leaves to rake your yard every day, so here are some other ideas for an outdoor, maintenance workout:

  • Fertilize your lawn – using an aerator requires a lot of upper body strength and can help you work up a real sweat!
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, chop wood and then carry and stack it. This involves aerobic exercise, squatting, bending and it also works your shoulders, back and arms. In 30 minutes of chopping, you can burn more than 200 calories!
  • If you live in an area where year-round lawn maintenance is a must (for example, there's no snow on the ground), then you can get some good exercise by mowing your lawn with a push mower rather than the riding variety.
  • If your home is in a snowy area, break out the shovel and snow blower. Shoveling can burn a whopping 225 calories in 30 minutes, while pushing a snow blower for 30 minutes uses more than 150 calories.
  • Climb a ladder and clean out the leaf-clogged gutters, which will take core energy to stay balanced while you work with your hands.

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