11 Household Chores That Actually Burn Calories

Burn some extra calories by doing the laundry or mowing the lawn.

Woman cleaning a microwave oven
Photo: Getty / MediaProduction

One of the most common reasons people cite for not working out is not having enough time. Luckily, tackling some everyday chores and responsibilities can pack a two-for-one productivity punch. First, your home gets spruced up and tidied, and second, you can add a little activity to your life and burn some calories. To find out more, we tapped Florida-based certified health coach and personal trainer Arnit Demesmin, CPT, AFAA, AFPA.

Read on for some common chores and their general calorie count—because, after all, a calorie is simply a unit of energy, and it certainly takes energy to keep a clean home.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that calories burned is also dependent on the person, their body, the intensity with which they do the chore and more. This is just a general guide based on professional advice.

How Many Calories Do Household Chores Burn?

Cleaning and Calorie Burn

Vacuuming will burn roughly 100-200 calories in an hour. Depending on the time and square footage of the home, this can obviously increase or decrease. Laundry will be 50-100 calories per hour, which includes actions like loading and unloading the washer and dryer, putting away clothes, and transporting loads around the house. Mopping can burn 100–200 calories in an hour, but will increase or decrease depending on time and square footage of the house. Another common task is scrubbing the bathroom, which can burn 180-300 calories for an hour of work.

A few less-frequent chore ideas can also be helpful for burning calories. These include rearranging furniture, which can burn 400-500 calories in an hour of activity, dusting high fixtures for about 180 calories an hour and reorganizing a pantry or fridge, which can use 50-200 calories for the task.

Outdoor Chores and Calorie Burn

And burning calories isn't just reserved for traditional inside chores; look outside for even more opportunity to add activity to your day. Mowing the lawn for an hour with a push mower will burn between 350 and 500 calories. Gardening for an hour will burn the same, 350-500 calories. Cleaning the pool can require anywhere from 300 to 500 calories. And don't forget about pressure-washing, as this can burn 250-300 calories per hour. Demesmin shared that this is a biggie, because pressure-washing usually takes more than an hour. Painting the outside of the home also uses between 250 and 300 calories in an hour, but again, generally takes much longer than an hour so has lots of potential.

And as far as targeting specific areas for toning, Demesmin added that "All of these movements can really target the entire body but a few target the shoulders, back and biceps: dusting, cleaning the bathtub, pressure-washing and painting and definitely the gardening." The trainer shared that for leg day, consider vacuuming, mopping and mowing the lawn. She added, "To make it even more fun, you can add some lunges or squats in with your mopping or vacuuming."

For an added fat burn, Demesmin said that if you have stairs, to take laundry loads one by one to increase the number of times going up and down the stairs. She elaborated further, stating that folks could sprint up the stairs carefully then allow the heart rate to drop between loads: "This will cause your body to burn fat throughout the day if you constantly cause the body to raise its heart rate and rest."

Overall, it's clear that regular chores at home and beyond can have the added benefit of getting us moving and burning calories.

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