Fall is here – and soon your yard will be littered with leaves that need to be cleared. But look at it as an opportunity, not a chore! While you’re raking, bending, lifting and hauling, you’re also squeezing in a workout (and benefitting from fresh air to boot!).
Raking leaves is a moderate and functional exercise, meaning it’s a total-body workout – about the equivalent to taking a brisk walk. Follow this advice, and you’ll not only keep up with fitness this fall, you’ll also have the best-looking yard on the block.
What are the benefits of raking leaves?
Did you know that just one hour of raking can burn anywhere from 240 to 400 calories? Here are some additional benefits you’ll harvest from raking leaves:
- Builds upper body strength along with core strength
- Works your major muscle groups; back, shoulders, arms and legs
- Strengthens the back and stomach
- Improves cardio by raising your heart rate
- Allows cardio and strength training at the same time
- Provides fresh air and natural vitamin D from sunlight
- Allows multitasking of exercise and home chores
How to get the most from a raking leaves workout
- As with all exercise, begin by warming up, especially in the fall when there may be a chill in the air. Walk around the yard a few times to get the blood flowing into your muscles and joints. Then add in a few upper body stretches.
- Posture is important; no hunching allowed. Stand up as straight as possible, use a wide base stance and hold the rake closer to the end of the pole.
- Don’t over twist. Be conscious of using your entire body and avoid twisting from your spine (which could cause back injuries).
- Keep feet supported. Wear good shoes or boots with support and traction to keep from twisting your ankles or slipping on the leaves.
- Listen to some good music. Fast-paced, upbeat music will get you into the groove and keep you motivated.
- Rake dry leaves. Wet leaves can be much heavier to rake and lift, which could lead to injury. Wet leaves also can also become moldy or mildew-y (and you don’t want to breathe that in).
- Stay hydrated. Keep a reusable bottle filled with plain water, coconut water or enhanced water nearby to stay hydrated. Don’t let the cool air fool you into thinking you don’t need the hydration!
- Sunscreen is still a necessity in the fall. Apply sunscreen to your face and hands 30 minutes before heading outdoors.
- Bag leaves for an extra workout bonus. The squatting and lifting will burn extra calories and work your muscles.
Upper body: Be sure to alternate arm positions (right sides/left side) every 5-10 pulls. This will ensure balance and prevent one side of your body from getting overworked.
Lower body: Squatting properly is important to achieve the greatest benefits for your glutes and thighs. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart, and slightly bend your knees. Bend at your waist to pick up leaves using a good grip with both hands, then bring them close into your body and stand up straight pushing through your heels.
Rake in small batches, and then place the leaves in lawn bags, containers, etc. By doing this you will continuously be changing body positions and working different muscle groups.