Housework can be tough — particularly in a busy family home. But it doesn’t have to be all about your home. If you do it right, you can turn your daily chores into calorie-burning workouts.
Vacuuming, polishing, laundry and many more household tasks require a great deal of physical effort. And if you turn up the intensity, you can turn your own home into a gym.
Imagine never having to go to a gym again. You’d save money, and you’d save yourself a lot of time. But leisurely pushing around a vacuum cleaner isn’t going to deliver the results you’re looking for. To really get your heart pumping, you’re going to need to adapt those everyday chores accordingly.
We’ve compiled a list of practical ways you can get fitter with housework. You won’t need to purchase any special equipment or fitness DVDs. Just change how you approach household chores, and you should start seeing results in just a few days.
1. Pump up the volume
There’s a reason why people tend to listen to music when working out. The right tunes at the right time give us the motivation to go that little bit further. They make the process a lot more fun, and take our mind off the hard work that lies ahead.
The first thing you should do is compile a housework playlist. In most cases, you should add up-tempo tunes which are happy and positive in nature. You might already have a few in mind. But to help you along the way, try searching for playlists created by other users on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.
Your playlist will grow over time. To keep your housework exciting, continue to add songs to your playlist regularly. The moment you become bored with your music is the moment you become bored with your housework workouts.
2. Treat housework like training sessions
If you’ve ever gone to the gym before, you’ve probably had to set aside some time in advance. You should do exactly the same with your housework sessions. Assign a specific timeslot for the most rigorous jobs, and make sure you spend at least 30 minutes doing them.
For example, a great time to do your housework session is just before you usually have a shower. This might be first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
3. Dress for action
You wouldn’t wear your work clothes for a gym workout, so don’t wear them when you’re doing a housework session. Slip into your gym clothes, and you’ll be more flexible and mobile.
Avoid jeans and heavy tops at all costs. They soak up moisture and become heavier as you exercise. Wear loose-fitting garments and comfortable shoes. Invest in a pair of trainers, and keep them for use indoors. This way you’ll never have to worry about walking dirt into your home.
4. Use a smartwatch
A smartwatch is a great way to track your progress. These increasingly affordable gadgets can measure your heart rate, and tell you when you’ve completed a beneficial workout.
Set goals with your device. These goals might relate to the number of steps you want to take. Or you could decide to make time your goal. A smartwatch will let you know when you’re exercising well. And it will track your progress over time.
5. Bend as much as possible
Bending down to reach surfaces or pick up clutter is a great way to get the blood flowing. It not only gives you a good cardiovascular workout, but it also strengthens your lower body.
Use your buttocks, your calves, your thighs and your hamstrings to bend down and stand up again. And do this as much as possible. Never bend with your back, as this could lead to serious injury. As long as your legs are doing all the hard work, you’ll begin to see positive results within the first month.
6. Minimise cleaning aids
There are some cleaning aids that you won’t be able to do without in your home. For example, a powerful vacuum cleaner is a must. And an efficient steam mop can help you to clean and sanitise a range of household surfaces quickly.
But there are certain things that you can do without. Instead of using a standard mop for everyday cleaning, get down and clean the floors by hand. Instead of using a feather duster, reach up and clean areas with a cloth.
And there are a lot of cooking tasks that can be turned into calorie-burning exercises, too. For example, chopping vegetables every day for a week could help you to burn off up to 150 calories. And the same goes for crushing spices, mashing potato, and peeling veg.
7. Exercise when you’re standing
There are some household tasks that are performed whilst standing still. But this is no reason to remain still throughout. This is precious time — which is often better spent moving around as much as you can.
For example. Instead of standing at the sink whilst washing dishes, perform some lunges or squats at the same time. If you’re polishing surfaces, stretch your legs or bend up and down as you go. Exactly what you do is up to you. As long as you move more than your arms, you should be getting a reasonable workout.
8. Always engage your core
There’s no reason why you should ever stop engaging your core. Whether you’re cleaning ornaments or washing door handles, use this opportunity to tighten your core abdominal muscles as you move around. Turn and twist slowly, and make sure you’re engaging all of those core muscles equally.
9. Clean windows regularly
One of the best workouts you can get at home is rigorous window cleaning. You’re bending, reaching, twisting and using your core all at the same time — all of which are great for burning calories and toning up.
You can burn up to 150 calories in 30 minutes, just by cleaning your windows. Using a standard cloth or chamois leather, along with a little white vinegar. Use both hands to clean, and bend your knees if you can.
10. Scrub the bathtub
If you’ve ever done this job, you’ll know how tough cleaning a bathtub can be. It requires a lot of stretching, bending and reaching — all at the same time. Scrub the bath with cloths and brushes… basically anything you have to use with your hands. And make sure you spend time on rings, soapscum, limescale, taps, the plughole and any fixtures.
Gardening is often a relaxing and rewarding activity during the summer months. And it burns around 300 calories an hour if you really put your back into it. Digging, mowing the lawn and weeding are the most calorific jobs.
A great way of making this particular activity complement your new, healthier home life is to grow vegetables. Not only do you get great workouts throughout the year, but you also get a regular supply of fresh vegetables — without the carbon footprint.
A little extra effort and a change in your approach could turn your own home into a state-of-the-art gym.