Shape Up While You Clean!

The messy kids, the hair-shedding pets, the chip-munching spouse, the sleet-splattered windows — it’s spring cleaning time again!  If only there were some redeeming virtue to housework (other than a cleaner house, of course).

Spring has sprung, so now it’s time for some Spring cleaning.  Maybe dusting and organizing clutter is not the most exciting way to spend your weekend, but you’ll feel so much better you’ll feel when it is all done.


Go ahead and clean out your closet, dust under your bed and on top of the fridge, vacuum your mattress to get rid of dust mites, and open up the windows to get some fresh air circulating.  A huge plus is you’ll also be burning some major calories too.  To find out how many read more.

Like any physical activity, chores you do around the house and garden can burn calories and stretch and tone muscles — if you do them correctly.


Forget the old “No pain, no gain” mantra.  Doctors now believe that even short bouts of relatively mild exercise can help improve your fitness level — especially for people who are just getting started with exercise.  Though it’s not likely to give you the body of a swimsuit model, doing some sort of moderate activity for 30 minutes every day can bring real health benefits.


Here are some other tips for making housework a workout:

  • Put on some fast music — rock and roll, salsa, whatever you like. This helps you pick up speed, Findley says. A bathroom should only take 20 minutes to clean, she says. So get moving!
  • Whenever you’re doing chores, tighten your abs. This prevents you from slouching.
  • Stretch extra-high to knock down those cobwebs or prune that limb. You should feel it along your side.
  • Strive for large up-and-down movements. When cleaning a shower door, for example, make big circles. “I am a trainer and I feel like my arm is about to fall off!” exclaims Mandel.
  • Carry heavy baskets of laundry or supplies up from the basement, if your conditioning allows.
  • Climb on a stepladder every chance you get. “What’s the difference between this and a step class?” Mandel asks.
  • Scrub floors on your hands and knees. And get on your hands and knees to pull out all that dust and clutter hiding under the bed.
  • Do lunges while vacuuming (keep toes pointed straight ahead, and don’t bend your knees further than 90 degrees). You’ll feel it in your thighs.
  • When putting away dishes, face forward and twist to reach the cabinets.
  • In the garden, lunge toward weeds. “Some of them have roots 5 feet long,” Mandel says. “Those’ll give you a workout!”
  • Pruning requires forearm strength (and helps develop it). It also requires reaching on your toes — like a calf raise, Mandel says. So volunteer for this chore, and don’t be afraid of thicker or higher branches.
  • Pouring mulch or fertilizer from a heavy bag requires a squat. Remember to use your legs, not your back.
  • Wielding a weed-eater is like fencing, almost. Pull in those abs and pay attention to your form.
  • If you have area rugs, beat them using a clean broom rather than vacuuming. This means more steps to get outside and more exercise for your arm muscles.

These calculations are based on a 130-pound woman.

Activity: Calories burned per 30 minutes:
Mopping or sweeping the floor 85
Dusting 85
Gardening/weeding 140
Ironing 74
Doing laundry 73
Mowing the lawn 163
Mowing the lawn (push mower) 172
Raking the lawn 125
Rearranging furniture 101
Washing dishes 85
Washing the car 101
Washing windows 85
Cleaning out the garage 101

Compare these counts with walking for 30 minutes (at 3 mph), which burns 155 calories.

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.