A survey by energy supplier npower* revealed that the average person spends around 18 hours a week on housework.
Modern labour saving devices such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners mean this is less than half the amount of time it took to run a house in the 1960s, and these days the majority of our time is spent preparing meals, clearing up afterwards, keeping the bathroom and kitchen clean and doing laundry.
Very few of us get excited about daily chores, but the everyday tasks themselves can have a calming, therapeutic effect when we’re doing them, and give you a sense of satisfaction when completed. In addition, many household chores are great for burning calories – so grab that duster and get moving. As well as a workout, you’ll also end up with a clean, tidy house – and there’s no gym fee to pay
Any activity that involves stretching or carrying is great for toning arm muscles. Reaching to make beds, dusting shelves, washing windows or cleaning the car will all help with balance and flexibility, as well.
Running up and down stairs for a forgotten bottle of polish or lugging the vacuum cleaner along the hallway will give your legs a workout. Any outdoor activity such as weeding or digging is an excellent workout, and standing at the sink washing up or cleaning vegetables will improve stability and tone muscles.
Any activity that raises your heart rate slightly is doing you good. Running up and down stairs is a great form of exercise, and it’s free. Any task where you have to bend and stretch, such as re-stacking and cleaning shelves, weeding flower beds or painting and decorating will give you an all-over workout.
Burn, calories, burn…
Here’s how many calories you can expect to burn during your 18 hours a week:
Sweeping floors: 150 calories/hour
Washing windows or car: 230 calories/house
Dusting, wiping down surfaces: 170 calories/hour
Washing dishes, standing: 80 calories/hour
Vacuuming: 190 calories/hour
Preparing meals, standing: 70 calories/hour
Weeding, garden activities: 280 calories/hour
Walking up and downstairs, moderate pace: 500 calories/hour
Ironing: 110 calories/hour
Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your home workout:
- Be inefficient! Constantly running up and down the stairs to retrieve things you’ve forgotten is brilliant exercise. Ditch the cleaning tools caddy, and take each item you need up individually, and take it back down as soon as you’ve finished using it.
- Get cooking. Make as much of what you eat from scratch as possible, including pizza bases, pastry, bread and soup. Not only is homemade food much better for you and tastier, the preparation uses a lot more energy than pushing microwave buttons.
- Make yourself a ‘housework play list’. Load up your MP3 player with upbeat, fast-paced, sing-out-loud songs to keep your energy levels high. Just make sure no-one can see or hear you when you’re dancing round the vacuum cleaner, waving a duster and singing along to Donna Summer’s ‘I feel love’. We learnt this one the hard way.
- Ditch the spray polish for a pot of solid beeswax furniture polish. It smells lovely, contains no harmful chemicals, is good for your skin and using it to get a nice shine on your dining room table will give you biceps like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Get a dog. Not only will you now have to go out for lots of nice health walks, the amount of housework you have to do will suddenly triple.
- Iron everything, from jeans to shirts. Trying to fold bed sheets on your own is a workout in itself.