published Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

More than a chore: Rake leaves, mow the lawn, burn the calories

J. T. Dickerson rakes leaves in the yard of his home near Ooltewah.
J. T. Dickerson rakes leaves in the yard of his home near Ooltewah.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Raking leaves and mowing the lawn are common chores for homeowners and often ones we dread doing. But take heart: Not only are you sprucing up the yard, you are burning calories.

In fact, you burn 96 calories every 15 minutes you spend raking leaves. Shoveling snow is an even better workout, eating up 144 calories per quarter hour. This winter notwithstanding, snow isn't something we have to deal with a lot, so how about pushing a lawn mower? It will burn 108 calories in that time frame, and a full hour behind the wheels, so to speak, will burn about 400 calories for a 190-pound man.

Bryan Clayton is the founder of Greenpal, a Nashville-based service that matches homeowners with lawn-care services. He's also a fitness buff and computer tinkerer who has a blog where he likes to merge all of his interests.

"I'm also that guy who will go to the gym to work out and drive around the parking lot four times looking for a spot closer to the door," he says. "Or that guy who will spend an hour on the treadmill and then pay somebody to mow his lawn."

When Clayton went looking for data on the benefits of doing common home maintenance projects, he could find it, but not all in one place. So he spent some time gathering the info and then compiled it into one easy-to-read chart, which he posted on his website yourgreenpal.com.

He is quick to point out that all of the tasks on his chart are things most of us dread, but thinks maybe if we tell ourselves we are also exercising, it might help psychologically.

"Yeah, all of it sucks," he says. "Cleaning gutters is my least favorite, and you only burn 75 calories every 15 minutes."

Kevin Fairris, fitness director at the Cleveland YMCA, says he often encourages clients to think of common household chores as exercise.

"We definitely encourage people to just stay active whether here at the gym or just around the house," he says.

"I taught a class at Lee [University] and we talked there about how much benefit daily chores can have on your daily health."

Clayton says his next project is to put together a chart looking at when you should tip for home maintenance services and if so, how much. After that he plans to look at some of the more mundane home chores like laundry and vacuuming.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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