Mowing: Just As Good For You As It Is The Lawn

By Allyn Hane - "The Lawn Care Nut"
March 24, 2022

It’s a new lawn season and we are now into daylight savings time so no doubt you’ve been getting out and cleaning up the lawn, preparing for spring. If you’re further south like me, you’ve probably been out enjoying the mow for several weeks already.

Did you know that all that mowing has some really good health benefits to go along with it? Sounds pretty obvious right?

Getting out there and walking back and forth across the lawn has to burn calories for sure, but how many? And how does yard work compare to a hard-paced cardio workout? Here’s the data from my fitness band.

First let’s look at a workout I did this past weekend. The screenshot shows “Stairmaster” but what I was on is a Precor Elliptical set at 12 incline and 12 resistance from start to finish.

elliptical workout screenshot

In 30 minutes I was able to burn 427 calories at an average heart rate of 155. I’m 49 years old and I can tell you that is a very good pace for pretty much anyone, of any age. Burning 427 calories in half-an-hour takes work. (I have always wondered if I could burn 1,000 calories in an hour. One day I may try!) 

Now let’s look at 3 different mowing's that I sampled from the last few months, each a little different. The first is the “quick mow” which is what most of us do on weeknights. You know I encourage you to mow twice per week because “the more you mow, the healthier your lawn will grow” and now there’s even more reason for this because it’s good for you, too. Look what the data shows for me.

My normal resting heart rate is 61. It took me 38 minutes for this quick mow and my average heart rate was 116 with a max of 132. Take note of this when you look at the other mowings down below. Here I was just going in to get the job done, not really enjoying a leisurely mow, but more just going after it to get it done with purpose and you’ll see this reflected in the numbers.

Either way, I think 217 calories is a good amount burned considering I’m doing something healthy for the lawn anyway. One thing to note is I have a self-propelled mower so if I actually had to push it I bet this number would be much higher.

quick mow screenshot

LCN's Mowing Tips

  1. Mow often (2x to start)
  2. Do not remove more than ⅓ of the grass blades per mowing
  3. Mow to your grass type ideal height
    1. Cool Season Grass Types

      Kentucky Bluegrass 3.5”+
      Perennial Ryegrass 3.5”+
      Fine Fescue 3”
      Turf Type Tall Fescue 4”+

      Most of you will have mixes of these grass types so when in doubt, take that mower all the way to the highest setting and leave it there. Done!

      2. Warm Season Grass Types

      St Augstinegrass 3.5” +
      Centipedegrass 3” +
      Bermudagrass *1-2”
      Zoysiagrass *1-2” (closer to 1” is better)
      Bahia 4”+

*Consider going lower with a reel mower!

375 calories burning in that amount of time is respectable at any fitness level. You can see some nice fluctuations in heart rate too. The spikes you see are from when the sun hits my St Augustine grass just right, it makes my heart rate jump with excitement and that is reflected in the overall burn rate.

st augustine lawn
screenshot of mowing workout

Next, let’s look at a “full-service mow” that took place on a Sunday. Here you will see I was still putting in work, but taking more time and just enjoying that work in a more relaxed state.

This 1 hour and 23 minutes of time is representative of what most of my weekend mows look like. I start with a general walk of the yard cleaning things up. From there I go into the edging and trimming, do a quick blow, then the glorious mow and a final cleanup with the blower.

So far we are doing pretty good! If you are following my advice and mowing twice per week, you are already getting in 2 decent workouts per week which is 2 more than a lot of people I know!!

But what happens if you work a longer day putting in some spring cleanup-type chores? Here is a day where I did a full-service edge, trim and mow, then I scalped a 2000 sq ft area of zoysia that required several passes with the mower bogged down. From there I did some spraying and some spreading of fertilizer and ended with some light pruning of the highest maintenance palms ever known to mankind, the Areca palm.

Here’s what all of that did for my fitness.

700 calories just from doing light yard work isn’t bad at all! If you eat a standard 2,500 calorie per day diet this 2.5 hours of yard work has taken out nearly ⅓ of those and one of the best strategies for losing weight is to put yourself in a calorie deficit. This means burning more than you eat.

I’d say that blasting off 700 of those cleaning up your lawn and landscape is a good use of them for sure.

I’m not sure about you, but these numbers were pretty eye-opening for me. Until I started looking at the data, I had never really thought that mowing the lawn would bring that much benefit but when you look at what you can burn off in just a little more than 30 minutes of mow time, it certainly can bring new meaning to the concept of “Enjoy The Mow.”

I’ll see you in the lawn!

screenshot of workout