Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gardening Versus Walking With An Aside About Dog Walking

Monet's home in Giverny France.

Journal Entry, May 18, 2010: Weight = 173.6 lbs; Coinage = $1.71, 66 pennies (one wheat), 3 nickels, 4 dimes, 2 quarters; Best coinage find = two quarters in a pay phone, a “super find” (.50 or more in one side, does not include car wash finds).

Journal Entry, May 19, 2010: Weight = 171.2 lbs; Coinage = $6.93, 133 pennies, 10 nickels, 26 dimes, 10 quarters (big day at two car washes).

Journal Entry, May 21, 2010: Weight = 172.6 lbs; Coinage = $.80, 55 pennies, 3 nickels, 2 dimes ( what happens when the car wash canisters have been “visited” by the competition).

Journal Entry, May 22, 2010: Weight 173.2 lbs; Coinage = $4.91, 96 pennies, 16 nickels, 24 dimes, 3 quarters (an asphalt nickel, my first).

Feature Entry: Gardening Versus Walking With An Aside About Dog Walking

May 20th (note the gap from journal entries) was gardening day, but not any gardening day, it was outdoor prep day for the huge weekend party for the MoneyWalker’s Bible study groups. We are the hosts. Ms MoneyWalker is agonizingly thorough counterbalanced by the MoneyWalker who is a worriless procrastinator. But two twisted ears notwithstanding, four hours of work later, the yard was stunning.

We attacked the task together and early. Upon entering the front yard, we encountered a dog walker. Her dog had just finished his business on our curb grass garden. Unobserved and without cue from us, the walker reached into her bag and fetched a rubber glove and a plastic bag. In it went. She looked up, we smiled, she smiled, “good mornings” all around, and away she went on a 3 mph pace. Using the caloric expenditure table and estimating her weight at 130 lbs and 40 minute walk duration , she would have burned about 150 calories.

Meanwhile the MoneyWalkers went to work—mowing (no self-propelled mower), edging, hand trimming, weeding, thinning, transplanting, sweeping, pruning, hand watering—and four hours later we called it a day. The only stoppage was two brief G2 Gatorade breaks (G2 is diet). Again using the caloric expenditure table: .032 x 40 minutes x 173 = 225 calories burned. Using the dog walker’s weight of 130, she would have burned 165 calories for forty minutes of gardening. Incidentally, the Consumer’s Report Health Newsletter reported that dog walking is ranked as the number one source of motivation for taking the daily walk.

Measuring caloric expenditure using the table developed by nutrition and exercise physiology scientists is relatively simple. The table lists most daily household tasks in one section and most recreational/sport/fitness exercises in a second. The first factor (see .032 above) is a measure of caloric effort per one minute of exercise. The weighting is based on METS or “metabolic equivalent of tasks.” See Bill Yates, M.D. in his blog, “Brain Posts, Commentary on Research in Clinical Neuroscience” for a good discussion of METs and Wii computer game technology. The formula for measuring caloric expenditure is as follows:


To calculate caloric expenditure, use the table to locate the physical activity and gain the caloric expenditure per minute of exercise for the specific activity. Multiply the caloric number by the number of minutes of the workout. Then multiply the previous product by your weight in pounds. Using the MoneyWalker’s pace of 4 mph and his weight of 173 and a walk of 90 minutes, calculate as follows:

.042 x 90 = 3.78
3.78 x 173 = 653.94 calories burned

Using the table to calculate the MoneyWalker’s caloric expenditure for their gardening labor, Ms. MoneyWalker first: .032 x 200 minutes x 118, Ms MoneyWalker burned 755 calories (note two 20 minute breaks were deducted from the 4 hours workout calculation.) The MoneyWalker ‘s calculation is .032 x 200 x 173 = 1107.2. It is obvious that the more one weights the more calories are burned.

Now the real challenge begins for the MoneyWalker. In seven hours, the party begins. How will the MoneyWalker deal with the temptations of all that wonderful food that will be served? Will he negate all of the effort and benefits of the gardening expenditure? Stay tuned for the answer.



  1. Holy cow! Look at those totals! Very impressive!

    I am pouting around my house this morning. After ralking for two hours what I really want to do is go for a bike ride. Unfortunately, wind is preventing a good spin. I keep watching out the window hoping for a break but may have to give up soon. It has been unseasonably cold here, right now only 50 degrees. The pool opens next week so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some big changes.

    I have a little calculator on my handlebars that computes calories expended but I've never paid must attention to it. My usual gauge is how much time is spent at the particular activity. I never considered gardening to be a form of exercise. I do know that when doing an important photography shoot there are lots of calories burned up just from stress.

    Hey, there's a post I would be interested in. Does higher levels of stress burn more calories?

    Wind has died down a little. I'm outta here...

  2. Hi Numi,

    One day, my car wash canisters are going to dry up, then what will I do. However, my "street" averages are about a dollar a walk and I can live with that. A few walks ago I discovered a new money source. One of the big washaterias has begun to dump their lint filterings beside their dumpster rather than in it. By chance I noticed a penny sticking out and a quick look revealed about .20 in change, then yesterday another lint dumping was noticed with the same result, about twenty cents.
    I like what I'm reading about your bike rides, but it requires a different set of motivation drives. Let us know sometimes how biking sustains your interest over the long term.

    As for stress and caloric expenditure, it seems a brain function rather than a muscular one. I'll join you in the research.

    Thanks for your fidelity in reading my posts especially since they are so darn long. I'm going to work on shortening them.


  3. Just came in from a windy bike ride (90 minutes). THAT was hard work! Very easy when the wind was at my back on the way out but the return ride home was slow, slow, slow. Almost tipping over slow. Had to really work those gears. But oh, I do love to ride. Hopefully it won't grow old because there is much more invested in the nice bike than many pairs of running shoes! Did manage to come home with two golf balls, a cool little LED flashlight and a few coins.

    I've been meaning to ask how it is going with that nasty oil spill? Are you seeing effects anywhere near you?

    If you will email your address to me I will gladly send the Harley plate! I didn't know what to do with it so right now it is just sitting on my desk. Email me at
    numispeaks at comcast dot net.