Cleaning. It's a necessary evil. It's also one of the top excuses given when people are asked why they didn't fit a workout in. Too many chores. Vacuuming to be done. Dishes to wash. Loads of laundry to fold. The list goes on. Certainly those chores do indeed need to be done, but the incredible thing about fitness is that you can fit it in while you complete your household chores.
Cleaning and maintaining a household is a workout in itself. The 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities (Ainsworth et al., 2011) summarizes a list of household chores, including mopping, kitchen activities (think washing dishes, loading dishwasher, cooking, etc.) and vacuuming. A 150-pound woman completing each of those tasks for half an hour burns an extra 85 calories for mopping and an extra 226 calories for mopping and completing "kitchen activities."
So, while you're maintaining your house you really are burning extra calories. Know that at the end of a day when you washed, scrubbed, folded and cooked, your body has been worked out and you should be fatigued. It's just another wonderfully sneaky workout.
Want to challenge yourself even further? Try babywearing while you clean and work around your house for an even greater calorie burn.
While this is all well and good, washing dishing (no matter how vigourously) doesn't always feel like a workout. I wanted to come up with a workout I could do while I cleaned. However, I also wanted the workout to feel like a workout. I wanted someone to walk in my house and say, "What the heck are you doing?" and I'd reply, "Cleaning... obviously." with sweat dripping down my face.
The following workout allows you to accomplish your at-home to-do list and get your workout in, too.
Here's how: Set a timer to chime every two minutes. Whenever your timer goes off, complete the first exercise on the list below. The next time the timer goes off complete exercise number two. The next time, exercise number three, and so on. Determine the duration of your workout based on your current fitness level. For beginners, start with 20 minutes. That'll mean you'll complete two sets of each exercise. Feeling adventurous and fit? Go for 60 minutes.
Exercise #1 - 5 burpees
Exercise #2 - 10 pushups
Exercise #3 - Run a flight of stairs or 50 high knees
Exercise #4 - 10 squats or jump squats
Exercise #5 - 10 triceps dips
These five exercises give you a nice balance of core, upper body, lower body and cardio work. The faster you get them done, the more of your chores you get done and the more "rest" between exercises.
This type of workout can also be incredibly fun for your kids to join in with you. They will absolutely love the random activity and will help you count down the timer until your next round of exercises. As you clean your house, your kids watch and learn from you about the importance of moving your body. You're making time for exercise because it's important. They'll learn that from you.
You'll have a clean house, a healthy body and energized kids. Now that's a good day!
Ainsworth et al., (2011). 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: A Second Update of Codes and MET Values. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (1575 - 1581).
This article was previously published on the Hot Mama Health & Fitness blog
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