Autumn is a beautiful season with the changing of the leaves but it also brings about some hefty yard work in removing them. Raking leaves is actually very hard work and good physical exercise at the same time. Your equipment needs are simple: your body and a rake. Raking burns about 300 calories an hour while toning your arms and strengthening your back and legs. Just be sure to stretch first and, to avoid muscle pulls, don’t try to do the whole yard at once.
Regular exercise no matter what type can boost energy, build strength & stamina, improve balance and even help to reduce some signs of aging.
Tips for Safe Raking:
Do a pre-rake warm-up:
It may not seem like a workout, but you can burn nearly 300 calories during an hour of raking!
- Walk around a bit before you start so your blood gets flowing.
- Do a couple of stretches to prevent straining the muscles of your shoulders, neck, and back.
- Side bends and knee-to-chest lifts help open you up and ready you for all of the raking, bending, and lifting you’ll be doing.
Practice proper raking posture:
- To keep your neck and back happy, stand upright and rake leaves to the side of you, alternating your dominant hand now and then.
- Bend at the knees – not the waist – when picking up piles of gathered leaves.
- Keep the rake mostly perpendicular to the ground (i.e. between 65 to 85 degrees.) That will give your body easy leverage on the rake, making it easy to move, and easy on your body.
- Avoid twisting to toss leaves. Instead, step to the side so your whole body switches position, not just your shoulders and back.
- Switch sides now and then and take breaks, especially if you haven’t raked since last fall.
- Take it easy on your back. Move your whole body and not just your spine.
Take rake breaks:
The repetitiveness of raking can become painful after a while.
- Only rake small sections at a time as this will save energy. Take breaks when you get tired every 10 to 15 minutes.
- Sip on water to stay hydrated.
- Stretch to release tension you may have built up.
Using the proper techniques is essential. If part of your body is sore, it is probably telling you that you have overdone it or you are using the wrong technique. Rake so it’s natural and comfortable with the power of your movements coming from your legs.
So, get your family or even some of your friends involved and get your bodies moving! Also, don’t forget to look out for your pets or small children who may jump into your pile of leaves!