Housework workout: Get more out of chores

Spring into action while doing your spring cleaning—or doing housework anytime during the year.

You don’t have to choose between having a clean house and getting some exercise. Doing household chores can get your heart rate up and burn a significant amount of calories. If you add a few of the tricks below to your housework routine, you’ll be “exer-cleaning” (exercise cleaning) in no time. 

Turn on the tunes

Before you start housework, turn on some lively music that gets you amped up and ready to rock (your mop). Playing music during housework will make the job more enjoyable and encourage more beneficial movements. Check out this cleaning playlist for some ideas.

Turn up the intensity  

To get exercise-like benefits from cleaning, you’ll probably need to change your cleaning methods by exaggerating motions and picking up the pace (cleaning quickly is more of a workout). Here are some ideas:

  • Vacuuming: Vacuum briskly non-stop for 20 minutes (switching arms as you go). Or, do lunges while vacuuming (keep 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 can also do squats will unloading the dishwasher.)
  • Cleaning windows and surfaces: Do big arm circles until the muscles start to burn. Be sure to use both arms. This works on windows, shower doors, or counter tops.   
  • Scrubbing the floor: Scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees gives you more of a work out than mopping.
  • Cooking: While you’re waiting for a pot to boil or the microwave, do pushups or planks.

Check out more ways to fit exercise into your daily routine.   

Take it outside

Some of the most beneficial chores happen in the yard or garage. According to the Mayo Clinic, here the calories per hour you could burn on outside chores (based on a 150-pound person):

  • Gardening, weeding and cultivating: 272
  • Mowing lawn with push mower: 340
  • Shoveling snow: 408
  • Cleaning the garage: 238

Play it safe

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

Housework shouldn't be your only form of exercise, but every little bit of activity helps. It’s the ultimate multitasking win: A cleaner house and a healthier you.

Donate unwanted items to the Y

After you’ve done all that cleaning—there’s a good chance you might have some items you’d like to donate to charity. If so, donate them to the Y’s Spring Garage Sale which benefits Y camps.