Cleaning is not a task many of us look forward to. It’s hard to get excited about mopping floors, vacuuming, and scrubbing down the bathroom. But what if you looked at cleaning in a different way? What if you considered it exercise?
Think about all you are doing when you clean. You use your arms to scrub, wipe, and push a mop or vacuum. You bend down to reach tough spots like the corners of the bathtub and you extend upward to reach shower walls or dust the cobwebs out of high corners. You twist your torso to get to these hard-to-reach places. And you use your legs to power through all of your cleaning jobs. Throughout all of this activity, you are using multiple muscle groups. If you work quickly to get the job done as fast as possible–like most people–you will likely raise your heart rate too.
So, yes, cleaning does count as a form of moderate exercise. In fact, according to the average fitness tracker app, 60 minutes of light cleaning with moderate effort burns 164 calories. That’s enough to burn off a 4-oz serving of grilled chicken or a skinny vanilla latte. Pump that up to a vigorous effort and you’ll burn close to 200 calories in an hour.
Amp it up even more by treating your house cleaning as a real workout:
- Warm up first. Do some marching or light jogging on the spot to get your heart rate going, then do a few gentle stretches to loosen up. Triceps stretches are great, as are arm circles. For legs, lean against a wall and reach your leg back to stretch each calf, then stand up and gently pull your heel to your bottom to stretch your quadriceps. Lastly, stand with your legs a little wider than your shoulders and bend at the waist to stretch the backs of your legs.
- When mopping or vacuuming, be sure to switch arms regularly to balance the workout. Do the same when scrubbing a tub or cleaning windows or mirrors.
- When bending and stretching to reach up, do deep knee bends on the way down and stretch all the way up on your toes when reaching up.
- Throughout all of your cleaning jobs, keep your core muscles tight to tone and prevent your back from aching.
- Drink water to stay hydrated.
- Stretch when you are done to cool down.
As much as we may strive to be fit and healthy, it can be hard sometimes to squeeze in the extra bit of time needed for exercise. Instead of feeling guilty, we can look for opportunities for calorie burning and toning in everyday activities like cleaning. It’s not a replacement for vigorous exercise, but it will do on days when time is tight.