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Healthy Exercise Advice
Housework Workout

A Discovery Channel survey shows that the average British woman spends more than 16 hours a week cleaning. Dietitian Juliette Kellow gives top tips to turn cleaning your house into a good workout.

Turn Housework into a Workout

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

According to a survey by the Discovery Channel, many of us find cleaning our homes ‘mentally therapeutic’ and say it helps us feel in control of our lives. However, more than 40 percent of us believe we are addicted to cleaning and describe ourselves as ‘cleanaholics’.

The average British woman spends more than 16 hours a week cleaning her home – that’s the equivalent of 2 hours and 23 minutes a day!

WLR says:

Forget the gym! If women are really spending almost 2½ hours cleaning and tidying up every day, there’s plenty of opportunity to get a sufficient workout without even leaving home!

Housework is a great way to burn calories. But as is the case with any workout, the more effort you put in, the greater the benefit. In particular, polishing, dusting, mopping and sweeping are great for keeping arms shapely. Bending and stretching, for example, when you make the bed, wash windows or do the laundry are good for toning thighs and improving flexibility. And constantly running up and down the stairs as you tidy is a good aerobic workout.

Meanwhile, more energetic household chores such as decorating and spring cleaning, burn even more calories. Don’t forget the garden either – weeding, digging, mowing the lawn, trimming hedges or bushes and sweeping up are all great muscle toners and calorie burners.

Check out our household activity calorie chart below, which compares the calories burnt by different household activities with walking…

Activity Calories burnt in 1 hour*
Walking at a moderate pace 287
Hoovering 193.7
Dusting 173.6
Painting, Inside Projects 66
Gardening, Weeding 287.8
Mopping Floors 193.7
Car Washing 234
Cleaning Windows 180.3
Ironing 113.1
Wallpapering 133.2
Chopping Wood 415.5
Walking up & down stairs, moderate 516.3

* Values are based on a 37yr old female, 5ft 5, weighing 12 stone.Those who weigh more than this will burn more calories; those who weigh less will burn fewer calories.

Top tips to go for the housework burn

  • Use a wax polish in a tin rather than a spray – you’ll need to rub much harder to get a nice shine on your furniture.
     
  • Don’t leave things to pile up at the bottom of the stairs – take individual items upstairs as soon as you need to.
     
  • Plan your housework so you constantly have to run up and down the stairs. For example, empty the dishwasher in the kitchen, then make the bed upstairs, then vacuum the living room downstairs, then clean the bathroom upstairs – and so on.
     
  • Keep the laundry basket on the floor when you’re ironing (rather than on a raised surface like a table). That way you’ll constantly have to bend and stretch to reach the clothes.
     
  • Get more creative in the kitchen – peeling, chopping, stirring, whisking and beating all burn more calories than simply heating up a ready meal in a microwave oven. And if you really want to work up a sweat, have a go at making your own bread – kneading the dough is hard work!
     
  • Stick on your favourite music and turn up the volume – it will help you polish and sweep that bit harder.

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