Open Accessibility Menu

Turn Housework Into a Workout

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It, Exercise Author: Shawn Day,DO

I frequently get asked if cleaning counts as exercise. Housework shouldn't be your only form of exercise, but every little bit of activity helps.

Your time is precious. Don’t feel like you have to choose between having a clean house and getting some exercise. With a little extra effort, doing chores can burn calories and get your heart rate up. It’s a win-win — a cleaner house and a healthier you.

Musical motivation

Many people have a playlist for working out. Treat housework the same. Listening to music will make the tasks more enjoyable and encourage movement.

Step it up

To get cardio benefits from cleaning, you’ll need to pick up your pace and exaggerate your movements. Here are some ideas:

  • Vacuuming: Vacuum briskly non-stop for 20 minutes and switch arms after the first 10 minutes. Add lunges while vacuuming. Keep your toes pointed straight ahead and don’t bend your knees further than 90 degrees.
  • Picking up: Instead of bending over, do a squat with each item you pick up. Remember to use your legs, not your back. If you pick up 20 toys, you’ve done 20 reps. You also can do squats while unloading the dishwasher.
  • Cleaning windows and surfaces: Do big arm circles until your muscles start to burn. Be sure to use both arms. This works on windows, shower doors, walls and countertops.
  • Scrubbing the floor: Scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees gives you more of a workout than mopping.
  • Cooking: Do standing push-ups while you wait for a pot to boil. Stand about an arm's length from the kitchen counter and push your arms against the counter. Push in and out to get toned arms and shoulders.

When doing chores, remember to keep your abs tight and knees flexed to take the strain off your back.