Posted on June 21st, 2018
Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people don’t “hate” cleaning. Putting everything in order and seeing our homes start to gleam as a result of our hard work is both satisfying and rewarding. Instead, the real reason why we dread this task is a lack of free time: Between going to work, looking after the kids, cooking meals, and making time to exercise, it can feel like every spare moment is being chewed up by obligations. Understandably, by the end of the day, we just want to relax—not clean the house from top to bottom. But, what if we told you that instead of managing all of these tasks separately, you can actually consolidate at least two of them?
By melding cleaning and keeping fit into one job, you can shave hours off your weekly routine while still meeting all of your objectives. Let us show you how it’s done:
5 Ways to Turn Housecleaning Into an Effective Workout
Set a timer.
Working out effectively is all about raising your heart rate and core body temperature. Not only does this burn calories, it has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, brain function, mood, and metabolism.
To create this effect while cleaning, you should set a timer for each area you intend to clean. The time limit you choose should allow you to clean vigorously, without rushing so much that you skip important details or knock things over. In general, 5 minutes for a small area (like the kitchen counter and table) and 15 minutes for a larger area (like the bedroom or living room) is sufficient. Just make sure to schedule in some longer deep cleaning sessions on weekends as well.
Crank up the tunes.
Human beings have a tendency to naturally synchronize their movements with music. As such, putting on positive, fast-paced tunes while you clean will help you pick up the pace without even thinking about it. Feel free to work your cleaning movements into a “dance” if you want to—dancing is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise out there.
Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.
If your attire is restrictive in any way, you’ll automatically shorten and slow your movements. This reduction in activity will lead to fewer calories being burned.
The best clothing to choose for cleaning is the same kind of clothing you’d normally wear while working out: Loose or stretchy enough to accommodate movement, but not so loose you risk getting your clothing caught on things.
Resist the temptation to snack while you clean.
Research has shown that people tend to snack more while they clean, for two reasons: One, a lot of cleaning happens in the kitchen, where food is within easy reach. Two, because we perceive cleaning as being a chore, we instinctively try to make it more bearable by rewarding ourselves with food. Unfortunately, if you’re using cleaning to stay in shape, this will absolutely undo all of your good work.
One of the best ways to prevent mindless snacking is to wear cleaning gloves, even if the task at hand doesn’t necessitate them. Because we think of cleaning gloves as being dirty, the idea of eating with them on is immediately unappealing… And the conscious act of removing them will help you catch yourself before you grab the nearest tempting treat.
Keep cleaning manageable with the aid of a professional.
Interestingly enough, most people stop exercising for the same reason they delay cleaning: The task starts to feel unmanageable and impossible to fit into their busy lives. While you’d think that the natural reaction to this would be to double down on the job, our psyches basically do the opposite: They attempt to tune out the big, looming task. They find innumerable little things that “need” to be done instead, and before we know it, we’re out of time. This validates the idea that we don’t have enough time, and the job simply becomes more overwhelming.
One of the best ways to stop this from occurring (when it comes to cleaning, at least) is to hire a professional house-cleaner… Only instead of having them come in every day, ask them to stop by once a week or once a month. (If you’re a single person or part of an older couple, you’ll probably only need help once per month. If you have three kids and five pets, on the other hand, go for the weekly option.) They’ll take care of any deep cleaning that needs to be done, allowing you to do just maintenance cleaning throughout the week. This will keep your cleaning-slash-workout schedule realistic while also allowing you some much needed downtime on the weekends.
How Many Calories Can You Burn While Cleaning?
Now that you know how to set yourself up for cleaning success, you probably want to know how many calories you’ll actually burn in the process. You’re in for some good news: Even light cleaning burns off a surprising amount of energy. Vacuuming can burn over 150 calories per hour, for example, and mopping burns over 160. Compare this to walking, which burns just 60 calories per hour on average. Incredibly, even ironing burns 128 calories per hour, and dusting burns 174. When you consider the fact that your weekly cleaning regimen should involve all of these activities and more, it quickly becomes clear that cleaning is an easy way to burn hundreds of calories per week. Meanwhile, you’ll be saving hours of time spent at (and commuting to) the gym. Who says you can’t have it all?