The Housework-Out! How Much Fitness Do You Really Get Around the House?


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Is Housework Holding You Hostage?

Keeping up your exercise routine is super important for maintaining your fitness and general well-being. We all know that. Yet life has a way of throwing a wrench into even the best laid plans – and ruining those carefully crafted schedules. Mundane but essential tasks that unexpectedly (or sometimes routinely) pop up are often completed by sacrificing exercise time on the altar of convenience.

So what do you do when life inadvertently gets in the way and clobbers your coveted evening jog to cram the drudgery of an extra chore into your day?

Can I Have My Coffee First? No. - Courtesy OwlTurd Comics

The answer? You do the chore! (depending on what it is, and just how epic the corresponding pile of laundry, dishes, and/or other sundry objects that need clean is). Take heart my friends, because the daily chores you do around the house burn calories, and the 30 minutes you had to steal from your workout to mow the lawn that your HOA keeps harping about are actually 30 minutes that count towards your recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (as per the Department of Health and Human Services). And not only will you burn calories, but you will tone muscles and strengthen your cardiovascular system by raising your heartrate.

A DIY Primer for Housework-Outs

It can be helpful to know some general numbers and exercise comparisons to get an idea of how your health can benefit from some yard work and a few do-it-yourself projects. Just remember that actual time spent and calorie burning varies from person to person based on lots of personal factors like current weight and fitness level.

So in keeping with that, here are some common DIY house projects that double as exercise:


ACHIEVE PAINTER’S ZEN – Painting a room for one hour can burn 250 to 300 calories. That is comparable to an hour of power yoga, which can burn about the same amount of calories.

HIT THE DECK INSTEAD OF THE BAG – Similarly, installing new flooring can burn about 240 calories per hour. Spending 30 minutes vacuuming the new floor can burn almost 100 calories, which is the same amount you could burn doing 15 minutes of kick boxing

FITNESS ENGINEERING – Fixing a major appliance can burn around 240 per hour, and doing plumbing or electrical work can burn as many as 140 calories per hour. These projects are not exactly cardiovascular jump starters and probably don’t count as aerobic exercises, but they are still going to help you burn calories. They also help to tone muscles and strengthen your core with all the stretching, bending, and reaching these activities require.


FRONT YARD TABATA – And how about that yard work? Outside household chores tend to be much more labor intensive and effective for building strength. There are many activities outside that can replace 30 minutes at the gym. You could easily burn 1000 calories during a few hours of a Saturday morning chore marathon!

Fit Farm! You did 20 reps at the gym? Cool story bro.

GUTSY GUTTERS – Cleaning the gutters can burn 250 to 300 calories per hour. You’re going to be icky with sweat anyway, so why not throw some juicy gutter-splatter into the mix? Don’t wuss out – get down and dirty!

LEAVE IT ALL ON THE GROUND – Raking leaves can burn up to 450 calories per hour. This particular task is very similar to light weight training and really works all the muscle groups. Again, the bending, reaching, and lifting movements are work out lots of muscle groups.

PUSH THAT SLED – Mowing the lawn with a push mower (not a ride-on!) can burn up to 400 calories per hour. To increase the challenge and therefore the health benefit, consider trading in the gas-powered mower for a manual one. Mowing the lawn the old-fashioned way will give you better work out and give your neighbors some peace and quiet when you decide to mow at 7:00 am. How’s that for a homemade prowler system?

A WALK IN THE WEEDS – Even an easy gardening task like weeding can burn 200 to 400 calories per hour. The bending, crouching down, and getting back up again actually resemble slow motion low-impact burpees. It especially tones your upper leg muscles.

DIG DOWN DEEP – Now some of the best activities for both burning calories and raising your heart rate are shoveling snow and digging. Notice that they both involve a shovel! These tasks can burn 400 to 600 calories per hour. Spend an hour doing these things and it will be equivalent to an hour and a half of bicycling. Can you dig it? (unabashed Warrior’s reference)

Fight Your Body’s Best Intentions, Every Step of the Way!

Doing extra tasks around the house and yard that are at least moderately physically challenging is actually an excellent way to add variety to your workout routine. It’s well known that a fitness regimen that changes from day to day is more effective than one that is the same every day. Basically, if you go to the gym and run three miles on the treadmill every day, your clever body will get used to that routine and it will irritatingly optimize itself to find it less and less challenging and so the benefit will over time to all of your body systems/physiological processes will be reduced. Thanks body. Thanks a lot. Bottom-line, your fitness level can actually plateau in this well-intentioned (but ultimately bio-thwartable) manner, so having two or more different activities that you cycle between regularly on a daily to weekly basis can significantly increase the challenge to your body.

In fact, for a slightly more in-depth look at how many calories you can shovel, wipe, squeegee, mop, sweep, de-lint, dust, vacuum, and (sometimes) curse/mutter away, check out this nifty infographic!

The Housework-Out Calorie Count! Fit Farm! the Best Bootcamp Nashville, TN has to offer.

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So, next time you have to pull out the rake and shovel, remember that you are doing yourself and your exercise routine a huge favor. How do you turn a sudden extra house project that derails your normal workout into part of a legitimate fitness routine? Do the project FULL FORCE, and make it more challenging by adding more legwork. When you are transporting supplies from one work area to another, intentionally make more trips and call it Tabata transport! Carry one thing at a time. Do it the old-school way. Use hand-powered tools instead of power tools. Remember that added effort translates to added fitness benefit. Just like everything we do here at Fit Farm, and at every turn both at home and “in the wild”, Challenge Your Limits! (and give a new meaning to CLEAN and jerk in the process).


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