It's free! Well, not exactly. You'll need a rake, but they cost less than many kinds of exercise equipment and certainly less than leaf-blowers. At 150 lbs., you can burn over 300 calories per hour raking leaves. Walking at an average of 3 mph doesn't burn that many calories.
What are the benefits of raking besides exercising? The best part is that it replaces leaf-blowers. Blower noise can impair gardeners' hearing. A blower measuring 70-75 dB at 50 feet can reach 90-100 dB at the operator's ear. OSHA requires hearing protection for noise over 85, and according to the World Health Organization, "there is an increasing predictable risk" of hearing damage from noise above 75 dB.
Even use of certain antibiotics can create vulnerability at lower noise levels. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, half the users of ear protectors do not receive the expected benefit because of improper fit or failure to wear them continuously. Besides noise pollution, leaf blowers pollute our air and waste gas. Because they operate at such high velocities, leaf blowers stir up mold, allergens, and dust particles.
I believe raking is clearly more healthy than using a leaf blower. Many cities are actually banning leaf blowers. So, why not try this great form of exercise? You'll be working your abdominal and back muscles to maintain stability and arm muscles to perform the raking motion. While raking, stand straight with your feet placed widely apart and try to avoid twisting your spine. Switching sides every 10 minutes can prevent injury from overuse on one side of the body.
While raking, try taking your shoes off for at least 30 minutes and let your feet experience the earth. Learn more about this health benefit from those touting “Earthing.” This idea will be the subject of my next article.