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Natural Awakenings

Give Yourself A Housework Workout: From dusting to pulling weeds, those household chores can help improve your fitness level

Apr 01, 2007 03:00AM ● By Paula Felps

Talk about a home gym—your best workout might be right at your fingertips! Busy moms and working women know first-hand how hard it is to fit a fitness program into an already-crammed schedule. But take heart- those household chores are doing more good than you might know.

Simple, everyday tasks all burn calories. And clearing clutter is no exception. So if you’re tight on time but still want to tighten your abs, grab a broom and start moving!

Liz Neoporent, author of such books as Fitness for Dummies and The Ultimate Body: 10 Perfect Workouts for Women, believes that a healthy body and a healthy home go hand in hand. And the great news is you can get them both at the same time.

“Actively remodeling, repairing and maintaining the home is a great way to fit a workout into a busy schedule,” Neoporent says. Cleaning your house not only improves the appearance of you and your home, but it’s a terrific stress-buster, too.

Studies indicate that not being able to complete tasks is a major source of stress for women. Simply taking the time to vacuum or clean the bathtub not only clears an item off your to-do list, but also provides you with a mini workout as well. You can even target specific body parts for your “home training.”

If you’re tight on time but still want to tighten your abs, grab a broom and start moving!

Dusting and polishing your furniture, wood floors and countertops is a terrific way to shape your arms and shoulders. Use exaggerated circular movements both clockwise and counterclockwise to help build the chest, shoulder and arm muscles. Increased pressure will deliver quicker results, and if you like what you see, try doing these same movements while scrubbing floors.

If you need a good stretch but don’t have time to squeeze in a yoga class, reach for those top shelves as you clean. That helps elongate the muscles in your arms, legs and sides. If you’re cleaning the floor, extend your reach as far as possible to give your back and arms a good stretch.

Even tasks like loading and unloading the dishwasher, carting in groceries or taking out the trash can be transformed into fitness opportunities. Use full bags of groceries or garbage to do bicep curls or shoulder shrugs. And when unloading the dishwasher, turn your body as you put the dishes away, which will help stretch muscles in the back and sides. (If you put dishes and silverware away one piece at a time, you’ll get even more exercise!)

In warm weather, you can move it outside and get great whole-body benefits from vigorous activities like raking, gardening or even home improvement projects. (Hammering and painting are great ways to firm up flabby arms!) And if your forearms aren’t feeling so firm, try pruning your shrubs.

Feel the burn!

Want to know how many calories you’re burning? Here’s a look at some common chores, what you can expect to expend per hour while you’re doing them, and what common activity burns a comparable amount of calories.

(NOTE: Calculations are for one hour of activity, based on a 150-pound person.)

Cooking 180 calories
(golfing – with cart) Washing windows or ironing 200 calories
(golfing – without cart) Raking leaves 240 calories
(ballroom dancing) Gardening
(planting) 250 calories
(bowling) Washing & waxing the car 300 calories
(table tennis) Bathing the dog 307 calories
(hang-gliding) Vacuuming 315 calories
(skydiving) Hoeing 350 calories
(tennis) Digging 500 calories
(jogging 5 mph) Mowing the lawn
(push) 540 calories

 Turn mowing your lawn into an aerobic workout by pushing the mower quickly—and try the same thing with your vacuum cleaner. Remember, the more you move and the longer you keep moving, the more calories you’ll burn. And it can keep both you and your house looking fantastic!

To make the most of your housebound workout, try following these tips:

• When vacuuming, put your thighs to work by doing lunges as you clean.

• Use large, exaggerated arm movements when cleaning—this includes everything from countertops to bathtubs.

• Tighten your abs as you clean. It will help improve your posture and will give your muscles a better workout.

• Work your arms by shaking out area rugs instead of vacuuming them.

• Amp up your calorie-burning efforts by alternating cleaning the upstairs and downstairs. Running up and down those stairs will help kick your calorie-burning machine into overdrive!

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