Mondays in May, Get Moving: Manual Labor

Fence Close Shot Yes. I originally had a book review of The Invention of Wings scheduled for today. I will return to that review in June, because today is another MONDAYS IN MAY, GET MOVING post! Yes, admittedly, I forgot that this was the programme until this morning!!!

Today I want to talk about a form of work, or working out that ISN’T as dear to my heart, but CAN be an INTEGRAL part of good fitness, good health, and an overall good work ethic. I am talking about the merits of MANUAL LABOR.

I hope to encourage us all (me especially!) not to forget that physical activity can also be motivated by WORK. Case in point, my everyday since returning from Palm Springs (yes, it was a harsh awakening back into the world of home ownership).

I have to be honest and state that outdoor chores are not my very favorite endeavor. For me, it seems much more straightforward, easy, manageable to get my work out at the gym or on a dedicated activity such as running, biking, swimming, or paddling.I am not one to wake up in the morning and say, “Hmmm, what am I going to do in my yard today to burn some calories.”

Maybe I need a paradigm shift! Maybe I needed this shed, fence, deck project– otherwise known as #shedfencedeck– as a reminder that good old hard physical labor can be a GREAT WAY to GET ACTIVE and GET MOVING!!! (And wear yourself out! I am pooped after all of our labor!) DSC_0002 I am willing to guess that many of you Refined + Rugged readers are already well-versed and maybe well immersed in the ways of yard work, garden work, manual WORK!

Every Spring construction and renewal are a HUGE part of the daily life of many, many of us. So what I’m saying is that many of you are probably saying, DUH. I already knew that I could smash some calories and get fit while I upkeep my home and garden. DUH.

For those of you who are a bit more skeptical I’ve complied a list of some the top manual labor calorie burners. As well as linked to some expert opinion articles to bolster my stand: here, here, here, here, here.


Shoveling snow: 400-600 calories per hour

Heavy yard work (landscaping, moving rocks, hauling dirt): 400-600 calories per hour

Raking and bagging leaves: 350-450 calories per hour

Outdoor construction and remodeling: 250-300 calories per hour

Gardening: pulling weeds, planting flowers, etc.: 200-400 calories per hour

Mowing the lawn: 250-350 calories per hour

Washing the car: 175-250 calories per hour


Major cleaning (turning mattresses, washing windows and blinds): 175-250 calories per hour

Moderate housecleaning (laundry loads, mopping and sweeping, vacuuming): 150-200 calories per hour

Light housecleaning (dusting, straightening up, taking out the trash): 120-170 calories per hour

Child care: 300-600 calories per hour (depending on how old the kids are and how active they are)

If you don’t want to jump into yard work just yet, pick an indoor chore to stay active and fit. I mean, if I can burn up to 600 calories per hour playing tag with my boys, why not? If I can get a physical boost from Spring Cleaning I had better go after it!!!

Yes. I spent my weekend staining every single board for our fence. That meant that a couple nights we were up until 11:30 p.m. staining and screwing! There are pictures below of all of our current projects: shed, deck, fence. You can see our late night fencing in the last shot. I love the dark of the night against the trees and the glow of the fence in the industrial work light we borrowed from our neighbors.

I don’t know specifically how many calories I burned, but I can tell you that my back and arms and hands ached every night it was time to crash into bed. Seems to me that my body was experiencing a really good, rather intense work out. No gym. No dedicated path required! What are your favorite WORK tasks?

Have you experienced the healthy benefits of getting up and putting some elbow grease into it? Whether IT is deep cleaning the carpet, remodeling your kitchen, creating a new garden space, or maintaining your current yard, how do you get moving with manual labor? I’d love to hear!

Have a brilliant Monday!

XX, Megan

P.S. I really need to give credit where credit is due here. NONE of these project would have happened without my SUPERMAN of a husband. He has the most incredible work ethic of anyone I have ever met. In his day job, and in his constant commitment to make our home and yard a beautiful space and place to live! I am one very lucky gal! Thank you, babe!!!

DSC_0003 DSC_0009 DSC_0006 Fence in the Dark

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