photo of mature couple gardening
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Clean Up, Burn Calories

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.

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photo of vacuuming
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Vacuum Carpets and Floors

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.

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photo of lawnmower
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Mow the Lawn

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.

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photo of man washing car
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Wash the Car

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.

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photo of changing bed sheets
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Make and Change the Beds

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.

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photo of family playing soccer
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Play With Your Children

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.

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photo of raking leaves
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Rake and Bag Leaves

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?

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photo of couple washing dishes
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Clean Up After a Meal

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.

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photo of cleaning gutter
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Empty the Gutters

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.

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photo of mature couple walking dog
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Walk Your Dog

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.

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photo of woman unpacking boxes
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Move to a New Home and Unpack

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.

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Get Into the Garden

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.

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Pump Up the Pace

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.

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photo of man walking
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Stand Up, Add Movement

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 | Medically Reviewed on 10/16/2019 Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on October 16, 2019

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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?”

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on October 16, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.