Hit the garden instead of the gym!

As we know, gardening has become extremely popular during and after lockdown, but did you know that gardening can also become a part of your fitness routine? Well, you do now. Based on a study we carried out, we have created an ‘ultimate gardening workout routine’, and a calculator which can tell you how many calories your favourite gardening activity can burn!  

We enlisted the help of 20 members of the public to determine how many calories are burned per hour per gardening exercise, by tracking their smartwatch activity. During this study, it was found that men can burn up to 435 calories an hour, and women can burn up to 308.

Additionally, we conducted a survey of 1,452 Brits, aged between 25-55, and found that the most popular gardening activity in the UK was mowing the lawn (45%), followed by watering plants (22%) and weeding the garden (12%).

Using the help of our study participants, we learnt that the most popular activity, mowing the lawn, could burn up to 435 calories for men, and up to 308 calories for women if done for one hour. The results are even more impressive when compared to the average gym workout. Weight training can burn 180 to 252 calories per hour, but if training at a more athletic level, the calories can reach 360 to 504 calories per hour*. 

The top ten gardening activities and the average number of calories burned in one hour for males and females are:

Rank Activities Male Female
#1   Shovelling/digging 560 cals 336 cals
#2   Yard work (landscaping, moving rocks, hauling dirt) 480 cals 336 cals
#3   Mowing the lawn (electric mower) 435 cals 308 cals
#4   Lifting and carrying bags of mulch, wood, etc 396 cals 280 cals
#5   Laying turf 395 cals 280 cals
#6   Planting flowers & seedlings 356 cals 252 cals
#7  Weeding the garden 356 cals 252 cals
#8   Raking and bagging leaves 344 cals 241 cals
#9   Watering plants 198 cals 140 cals
#10   Walking (2mph) 198 cals 140 cals

If you want to see how many calories you could be burning whilst gardening, use the online calorie calculator below:

Surprisingly, the survey found that two fifths (41%) of people do not actually consider gardening ‘exercise’, but rather as part of the housework. Over half (55%) of those surveyed consider themselves to be regular gardeners, with one fifth (22%) saying they don’t participate in any other fitness activity. 

We consulted a personal trainer to shed light on how gardening can be good exercise and found that the variety of weight-bearing and resistance exercise that gardening entails is beneficial to bone strength and overall mental health, not just calorie burning. 

With help from our personal trainer, we have created the ‘ultimate gardening routine’ where the average man could burn up to 340 calories, whilst the average woman could burn up to 240:

  • 15 minutes raking leaves
  • 20 minutes mowing the lawn
  • 10 minutes weeding
  • 15 minutes watering the plants


Kate Fromings from WhatShed said,

“With many people developing a love for gardening over lockdown, and as the gym isn’t for everyone, it’s exciting to learn that people can still get their daily exercise in without leaving their property.

“The idea that people are burning so many calories without realising it, may encourage people to stick with their gardening habits throughout winter, and even encourage others to start renovating and rejuvenating their back gardens, which is music to our ears!”