10 Best Spring Cleaning
Workouts By Cecilia H. Lee
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"I'm not going to
vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on." Roseanne Barr
Tulips and daffodils
are blooming. Butterflies and birds are flying under sunny skies. It's
springtime! What better way to chase away the winter blues than to get your
blood pumping by doing a bit of spring cleaning. A recent British study showed
that the Brits burn over 50,000 calories a year (which adds up to almost 15
pounds of fat) just by cleaning their homes.
Here is a list of the top 10 highest
calorie-burning chores (listed from the lowest to the highest, with the average
number of calories burned per year). The good news is that the more you clean,
the more calories you'll burn through. And the more body weight you're
carrying, the more calories you'll burn. Not only will you get your workout,
you'll have a clean house to enjoy afterward. So, get out that vacuum and get
- 10. Dust and
polish (burn 2,288 calories per year). This can be one of
the easiest chores to overlook, but since you're doing a deep cleaning, why not
get totally into it? You don't even need fancy furniture spraysjust a
combination of olive oil and white vinegar. It's like salad dressing for your
furniture, only better (combine 1 cup of the oil and a 1/4 cup of white vinegar
in a bottle; shake well). Use a soft cloth to work it in and buff out your
furniture. You'll not only expend elbow grease (getting a bit of upper-body
exercise in), but you'll have naturally shiny furniture. Light dusting burns
about 170 calories per hour (assuming a body weight of 150 pounds); with more
heavy scrubbing and cleaning, you burn 204 calories per hour.
- 9. Change the
bedding (burn 2,728 calories per year). Although there may
be some debate about how often you should change the sheets on your bed, most
people think that once every week or two is a good standard. To get in a little
more exercise, be sure to make your bed every morning. This way, you'll have a
nice bed to slip into every night and you'll also burn 136 calories per hour.
Of course, none of us will take an hour to make the bed (Martha Stewart,
notwithstanding), but even at 15 minutes, you've burned enough calories to make
up for half a glass of wine.
- 8. Clean the bathroom (burn 2,891 calories per year).
Sure, scrubbing toilets is no one's idea of a good time,
but it doesn't have to be such a chore. Put on some fast music and get moving.
If you make it a little race or game for yourself, you can get the whole
bathroom clean in just 20 minutes. If you use large up-and-down movements (like
when cleaning a shower door), you'll even get your stretches in. Just by
cleaning the bathroom, you can burn at least 231 calories per hour.
- 7. Sweep the
floor (burn 2,896 calories per year). For outdoor areas
and garage floors, nothing beats an old-fashioned broom and dustpan. This
activity burns 272 calories per hour. So, it makes sense to sweep up the
driveway and even get out to the sidewalk. Although sweeping ranked 7th in
calories burned, you can increase the level of your workout by getting to all
the nooks and crannies of your property that you usually avoid. Even better,
stretch up and knock down those cobwebs that have been accumulating in the
corners of your garage.
- 6. Tidy up (burn 4,541 calories per year).
This is a general household chore that you can add to your
routine every day. Don't worry about being efficient because the more back and
forth you walk, the more steps you get in. If you have stairs in your home,
even better. Be sure to keep your abs tightened when you do your chores, since
it'll give your ab muscles a bit of a workout and improve your posture. Also,
be sure to put away heavy things (try carrying those storage boxes down to the
basement) to get in some weight training exercise. Even a light tidying up lets
you burn over 170 calories per hour. Step it up and you can get it to over 240
calories burned per hour.
- 5. Scrub the
floor (burn 5,117 calories per year). Get on your hands
and knees and scrub those tile or linoleum floors. Again, use big, broad
circular movements and reach under the bed and other hard-to-reach places.
You'll burn about 258 calories per hour, enough to make up for a serving of
- 4. Wash and
dry the dishes (burn 6,781 calories per year). Give that
dishwasher a rest and do your dishes by hand. You'll burn 156 calories per
hour, just for standing and washing the dishes; but if you dry them by hand and
put them away, you'll get even more bang for your buck. To get in a good
stretch when putting away the dishes, twist and stretch to reach the higher
shelves. If you want to save your hands from getting too dry, wear
- 3. Iron your
clothes (burn 6,794 calories per year). Get out all those
clothes you've been hiding in the back of the closet and get ironing. To make
it more fun, do it in front of the TV or with the radio playing. Just because
it's housework, it doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable. Besides, dancing a bit
while you're ironing will give you a little more of a workout. Ironing, sans
dancing, will burn about 156 calories per hour.
- 2. Vacuum the floor (burn 6,800 calories per year).
According to a recent survey, people found vacuuming to be
one of the more enjoyable tasks to do around the house. To make it even less of
a chore, put some of your favorite tunes into your portable CD or MP3 player
and get going. Vacuuming burns about 238 calories per hour, but you can get
more out of it by vacuuming the couches and pillows. Also, to make it more of a
workout, put the pressure on your legs (don't strain your arms and shoulders,
which can in turn strain your back). Instead of standing in one place and
pushing the vacuum back and forth, walk with the vacuum from one end of the
room to the other, like you'd do with a lawnmower. You'll get in more exercise
and ensure yourself of not missing a spot. And now is a great time to find out
how to best use all those attachments you've been wondering about and get in
some lunges (keep your toes pointed straight ahead and bend your knees, but not
more than 90 degrees).
- 1. Do the
laundry (burn 9,464 calories per year). Now that you've
changed the bedsheets and piled up all the dirty towels, you can get the
laundry going. Although doing the laundry only burns about 150 calories per
hour, because it takes a while to go through several loads (especially if you
have kids or major cleaning to do), the calories burned do add up.
If you have outside space, you can burn even
more calories by gardening (246 calories per hour), raking (264 calories per
hour), or mowing the lawn (a whopping 363 calories per hour).
you've cleaned the whole house, kick back with a tall glass of water and enjoy
your handiwork. And remember that the same British study mentioned earlier
showed that housework gave more of a workout than spending an hour at the gym.
So, the next time you don't feel motivated to haul yourself down to the gym,
put on your favorite music, and pick up your vacuum instead. Remember, doing
your housework faster and more intensely not only makes for a better workout;
you'll be done with your chores sooner. Happy cleaning!