Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on November 05, 2021
Clean Up, Burn Calories

Clean Up, Burn Calories

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Hate going to the gym? You can burn calories when you do chores around the house or in the yard. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, includes energy you burn doing anything except sleeping, eating, or exercise. House or yard work can boost your metabolism and help manage your weight.

Vacuum Carpets and Floors

Vacuum Carpets and Floors

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Pushing your vacuum cleaner around every room in the house requires some serious calories. Vacuuming for 30 minutes zaps 99 calories if you’re 120 pounds, 124 calories if you’re 150 pounds, and 166 calories if you’re 200 pounds. Do dance moves or lunges while you push to pump up the burn.

Mow the Lawn

Mow the Lawn

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Using a push mower, not a riding mower, creates a decent workout. It can be a power mower, don’t worry! Mowing the lawn for 30 minutes uses about 135 calories for a 125-pound person and 200 calories for a 185-pound person. An old-school, non-powered mower requires 30 to 40 calories more per half hour.

Wash the Car

Wash the Car

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Skip the drive-thru car wash: Fill up a bucket with soapy water and give your ride’s exterior and windows a thorough cleaning to work up a sweat. Washing the car by hand for 30 minutes burns 135 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and 200 calories if you weigh 185 pounds.

Make and Change the Beds

Make and Change the Beds

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If you have several bedrooms in your house, don’t let them stay messy. Changing the linens takes some energy. Stripping and remaking beds for 30 minutes torches 187 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and a whopping 300 calories if you weigh 200 pounds.

Play With Your Children

Play With Your Children

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A fun family workout is good for your body and spirit. Even if you only do a little work, 30 minutes of play time burns 120 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and 178 calories if you weigh 200 pounds. Ramp up to serious horseplay, and you’ll zap 30 or more extra calories per outing.

Rake and Bag Leaves

Rake and Bag Leaves

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Is your lawn littered with fallen leaves or clippings? Grab your rake! A half-hour of raking the lawn uses up 120 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and 178 calories if you weigh 200 pounds. Bag the leaves, too, and you’ll double the calories you burn per session. Who needs a yard service?

Clean Up After a Meal

Clean Up After a Meal

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Everyone loves eating a home-cooked meal, but if you hit the sofa once it’s time to do the dishes, you’ll miss a great workout. 30 minutes of washing dishes by hand and cleaning up the kitchen with moderate intensity gets rid of 187 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and 300 calories if you weigh 200 pounds.

Empty the Gutters

Empty the Gutters

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Yes, it’s easier to hire someone to climb up a ladder and clean the gunk out of your home’s rain gutters. But if you do this chore yourself, you could burn about 150 calories in 30 minutes if you weigh 125 pounds and 222 calories if you weigh 200 pounds. Install new storm windows, and you’ll double those numbers.

Walk Your Dog

Walk Your Dog

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Take your four-legged buddy for a stroll and you’ll both benefit. Walking for 30 minutes at just 4 miles per hour, or a 15-minute mile, chews up 135 calories if you’re 125 pounds and 200 calories if you’re 200 pounds. Rev up to 4.5 miles per hour, and you’ll burn 150 calories at 125 pounds and 222 calories at 200 pounds.

Move to a New Home and Unpack

Move to a New Home and Unpack

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Don’t put off unpacking your boxes after you move. Just 30 minutes’ work will burn 105 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and 155 calories if you’re 200 pounds. If you cancel the movers and carry the boxes yourself, you can torch 210 calories if you’re 125 pounds, and 311 calories if you weigh 200 pounds.

Get Into the Garden

Get Into the Garden

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Just 30 minutes of pulling weeds cuts 139 calories for a 125-pound person and 205 calories for a 200-pound person. Plant some new trees for even more exercise: It burns 135 calories if you’re 125 pounds and 200 calories if you’re 200 pounds. Gardening is also a great way to strengthen and build muscles.

Pump Up the Pace

Pump Up the Pace

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How do you know if your chores are really giving you a workout? Burn more calories by doing any activity at a pace quick enough to get your heart pumping and make you breathe harder. Do your activity for at least 10 minutes straight as well. Play upbeat music to raise your pace and stamina while you clean up or do yard work.

Stand Up, Add Movement

Stand Up, Add Movement

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Even standing more instead of sitting all day will increase your NEAT levels. Walk short distances whenever you can to add steps to your daily count and burn a few calories. If you take the bus, get off a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. Little movements can add up to more NEAT overall.

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SOURCES:

Best Practice & Research: Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: “Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).”

Health Research Funding: “Calories Burned Vacuuming.”

Harvard Medical School: “Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights.”

ProCon.org: “Calories Burned in 250 Activities (By Category).”

American Council on Exercise: “6 Things to Know About Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis.”

American Cancer Society: “Household Chores That Burn Calories.”

National Center for Health Research: “Can Listening to Music Improve Your Workout?”