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.

Want to Know How Many Calories are Burned When You do Housework?

By Dietitian Juliette Kellow BSc RD

According to experts, 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!

Ever wondered how many calories ironing burns? Or washing the floors? Or the car?

Or how many calories you burn when pottering around the garden?

Read on . . .

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 get some calories burned. 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.
  • Constantly running up and down the stairs as you tidy is a good aerobic workout.

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. Digging the garden over for just half an hour can burn 243 calories and half an hour of mowing the lawn can burn 209 calories!

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

We have also put together the information for a normal housework session, a spring clean and an afternoon pottering around in the garden.

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 176
Ironing 113.1
Wallpapering 133.2
Chopping Wood 415.5
Walking up & down stairs, moderate 516.3
Scrubbing Floors 405
Laundry 116
Digging the Garden Over 485

You could really go for it and do a spring clean*

Add in:

  • Cleaning the windows - 2 hours - 352 calories burned
  • Scrubbing kitchen floor - 40 mins - 270 calories burned
  • Cleaning the oven (scrubbing and then wiping) - 1½ hour - 202 calories burned
  • Cleaning cupboards - 1 hour - 298 calories burned
  • Extra calories burned - 1013

Or an afternoon pottering in the garden with a bit of digging, some weeding and mowing the lawn*

  • 1 hour mowing the lawn - 418 calories
  • An hour and a half weeding - 425 calories
  • 1 hour digging over the flower beds - 485 calories
  • Pottering around for a few hours - 149 calories

Spending an afternoon in the garden is a great way to burn some calories and keep active. Even if you are just pottering.

And no, we don't mean laying on a sun lounger with an ice cold drink in hand!

You'll be walking, bending, stretching and pretty much moving around the whole time. Not to mention getting some fresh air and Vitamin D if the sun is out at all!

* 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. And all calories burned are based on doing the activity vigorously so you are hot and sweaty.

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
  • When you wash the car, get the wax out for a fab shine and to help you burn more calories – wax on, wax off!
  • Don’t leave things to pile up at the bottom of the stairs – take individual items upstairs as soon as you need to
  • Burn extra calories climbing the stairs – 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.
  • Go a bit further and leave the laundry basket on the other side of the room so you have to walk to get the next piece of clothing.
  • 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.
  • Leave the trug for the weeds at the other end of the garden so you have to walk the length of the garden to put the weeds in it.

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