Spring Cleaning Calorie Burn
Shape up while you clean up
Gain Without Pain
If you're not a big fan of housework now, you will be really cranky if you
pull something. No one advises doing elaborate stretches before you start
cleaning house, but there are right and wrong ways to do things:
- When you vacuum, use your legs, Findley advises. "Most people vacuum
using their arms and shoulders. That is hard on the neck and upper back.
Instead of standing in one place and pushing the vacuum around, walk from one
end of the room to the other, then start a second 'row,' like mowing a
- Mop with your hand on top of the handle. This keeps your back straight,
Findley points out. Also, make sure you get a mop that extends to suit your
height. For those with carpal tunnel syndrome, some mops come with
- Use your legs to mop, as well. Put one leg in front of the other and lunge
on each stroke.
- Never lift anything by leaning over! Bend your knees instead. Never lean
over to clean a toilet, either, Findley says. "Squat or kneel on one
What You Will Burn
Not everyone is convinced that chores will do much to help you shape up.
Gabe Mirkin, MD, the former radio talk-show health expert, cites a British
study that showed many women who did heavy housework and slow walking were
unfit and overweight, while those who walked 2.5 hours a week were slimmer.
But another study, at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas,
found that participants who fit more physical activity into their daily
routines made long-term fitness gains similar to those made by people who did
traditional gym exercises like stair-climbing and jogging.
For its part, the American Heart Association counts housework as moderate
exercise. "You'd have to do four hours a day of it if you were training for
a marathon," jokes Press.
No one disputes that doing chores can burn calories. How many you burn will
depend on your fitness level, your weight, and the time you spend cleaning or
gardening. But here are some estimates, based on a person weighing 150 pounds
doing 30 minutes of chores:
- General cleaning: 127 calories
- Cooking: 92 calories
- Trimming shrubs: 157 calories
- Laundry: 133 calories
- Vacuuming: 123 calories
Compare these counts with walking for 30 minutes (at 3 mph), which burns 155
While even the most intensely calorie-burning chores can't replace
structured exercise completely, every little bit of activity helps. And along
with the fitness benefits come added dividends: A cleaner house, a beautiful
yard, and a sense of satisfaction.
"In the garden or house you can see the fruits of your labors
immediately," Mandel says, "That's nice. And gardeners lose track of
time. People in the gym hardly ever do."