Ditch the Gym for the Housework Workout

Busy schedules and increasingly high costs of living can make getting the recommended amount of exercise seem like a difficult chore at best – and impossible at worst. Even if you can manage to squeeze an hour into your day for exercise, the cost of gym memberships is likely money that you could put to better use on necessities or would much rather spend on a little luxury treat than a gruelling fat burning session. Many sources say that exercise should be fun; not only is it a way to keep fit, but also time to clear our minds and reset our inner balance. Unfortunately, the guilt we feel at leaving the chores undone or at overspending often means that this is not possible. It is very hard to achieve focus and get the most from a workout with a head full of chores that need doing at home or financial worries that need to be addressed. The great news is you can turn your housework into a workout – effectively eliminating all these problems. You will be fit, toned and healthy; your house will sparkle from top to bottom; and best of all – you’ll be left with free time to relax and some extra cash to treat yourself! Here’s how to do it:


The first stage is preparation. Music is a must. Research shows that music causes a natural response in our brains, causing us to put in more effort, demonstrate greater stamina and endurance, and feel greater levels of enjoyment. Create a playlist of songs with an upbeat tempo that always get you singing along (and hopefully dancing too). The right outfit is also essential; choose clothes that are loose and cool. You will need to be free to move in all directions, as the house cleaning workout is a full-body routine! Lastly, make a plan. List the chores that you need to complete, then set yourself an order in which to complete them. Try to alternate tasks that take you upstairs and downstairs, to get the most from your workout. (Look out for an upcoming article for tips on how to make and stick to an effective cleaning schedule).

Now it comes down to the cleaning. Most household chores burn between 100 and 250 calories per hour on their own, (that’s roughly the same as walking at a moderate pace). However, there are a few things you can do to make sure you really feel the burn:

To tone legs and bums, when hoovering perform lunges every 10 to 20 seconds. Lunges involve taking a large step forward, keeping your back leg straight and bending your forward knee to 90 degrees, then returning to a standing position. Just one set of 11 lunges on each leg performed daily can have dramatic effects on toning up your bum and thighs. While ironing, keep the basket of laundry on the floor and perform a deep squat every time you select another item. That means bending at the knees while keeping your hips centred and back straight!

Mopping is an excellent exercise for the abs. The figure of eight movement will really help you to burn tummy fat. For extra effect, try rolling your hips in the opposite direction to the mop as you go, or strap a weight to the lower part of the handle near the mop head. Any other task that involves stretching or reaching will also be beneficial to the abs; think cleaning gutters or windows and making beds.

We have already mentioned stairs in the planning stage. Running up and down stairs between tasks is great cardio, and this can be enhanced when tidying. Every time you come across and item that is out of place, take it up or down stairs to its proper place immediately. Do not wait for a pile of things to build up before you take them. This is not the most efficient way to tidy, but it will get your blood pumping and it can actually help you to develop better habits: soon you are likely to find yourself much putting things away as soon as they are finished with, without even thinking about it.

When it comes to toning up your arms, avoiding labour saving devices in the kitchen can work wonders. Make such you chop, dice, stir, roll and knead things all by hand. Additionally, choosing a wax polish in a tin, rather than spray polish, will mean that you have to spend more time rubbing this into surfaces, giving your arms a great workout… and giving your surfaces an extra glossy finish.

As you can see, there are many ways to turn your everyday chores into a mini fitness regime. The ideas above are just a sample. Our top tip: never stand idle. If you are washing up, waiting for the microwave to beep, the kettle to boil, degreaser to work, or any other task that would normally involve you standing still – don’t. Do leg raises while you clean the dishes. Drop and perform a set of push-ups or sit-ups instead of waiting. If you have kids – they might well laugh at you, but you’ll have the last laugh when they see your new bikini body on the holiday you were able to afford through the savings you made on your barely used gym membership.


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