Gardening Burns Calories!

Just ask gardening exercise guru Jeffrey Restuccio, who has written two books on the fitness advantages of yardwork. “To me the greatest benefit of eating organic food is not the food itself,” says Restuccio. “It’s the exercise that you get growing that food.”  He’s also developed a series of moves that maximize the fitness benefits of gardening. (The lunge-and-weed looks especially awesome.)

With the help of the University of South Carolina School of Public Health’s Compendium of Physical Activities, Restuccio estimated the amount of calories burned during half an hour of common gardening activities. Unsurprisingly, turns out that in general, activities that require less power from the grid are also a much better workout. For example:


Ride-on mower: 101 calories

Push mower with motor: 182 calories

Push mower: 243 calories


Power shears: 142 calories

Manual shears: 182 calories

Weeding is also pretty good exercise, at 182 calories burned in a half hour. Restuccio doesn’t calculate how many calories you’d burn applying a chemical weed killer, but I’m guessing it’s pretty similar to watering, which burns only 61 calories. (One exception to the greener gardening=better exercise rule: “gardening with heavy power tools,” which burns a whopping 243 calories, presumably because the tools are, well, heavy.)

Is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as…well…people across the world are struggling to get enough calories to sustain themselves and Mother Jones (a magazine I adore, by the way, and which usually gets a lot right on the food-politics front) is telling us how great it is that growing your own food also burns off those excess calories? 

Maybe I’m too sensitive. 

-Julia Childless