If you really push yourself while performing essential cleaning jobs in the home, you can burn up to 400 calories per hour. If you can’t get to the gym or you don’t have time for your daily walk, cleaning is a great way of killing two birds with one stone.
But there’s a catch. You can expect to burn lots of calories simply by washing dishes or polishing your ornaments. You will have to change the way you clean if you want to take advantage of the calorie-burning benefits. You’ll probably need to cleaner faster than you do right now — and maybe for longer.
But this is a win-win situation. Not only do you get fit (and maybe drop those extra pounds you’re not too keen on), but you also get to keep your home spick and span.
Here are seven things you need to do to make your regular cleaning rituals more like sweat-inducing workouts.
1. Schedule cleaning accordingly
To make the most out of your cleaning, you need to schedule it into your days. To get maximum cardiovascular benefit, you need to keep your heart rate high for at least 20 minutes, so make sure you make the time. It’s also worth thinking about the rest of your day. For example, do you like to exercise before you begin your day? Do you want to shower immediately after exercise? Choose a time when you won’t be disturbed — and preferably when you’re alone.
2. Create a cleaning playlist
Music motivates us to work harder and faster — and it also helps us to maintain a fast pace. Whether you’re vacuuming or scrubbing the kitchen floor, choose up-tempo songs that will fire you up. Typically, songs that are great for the gym are also great for the living room.
3. Monitor your performance levels
A great way to make things more fun is to track your progress. Over time, you will see how much your fitness levels and physique are improving. Track your weight, your best times and calories burned using gadgets and fitness apps. For example, how quickly can you scrub your kitchen floor? How quickly can you clean your bathtub? Time yourself, and record your times. After all, striving for personal best times adds to the fun of household cleaning — and it also pushes you to work harder.
4. Monitor your heart rate
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) people should be getting around 75 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise every week. Exactly what constitutes “intense” is related to your target heart rate. As a simple rule of thumb, subtract your age from 220, then multiply the answer by the percentage heart rate you’re targeting. You should be looking at achieving a heart rate of between 70 and 85 percent of the maximum.
Whether you’re vacuuming, polishing, cleaning the oven or scrubbing the shower, wear a smartwatch or some form of heart rate monitoring device to ensure that you’re getting the cardiovascular workout your body needs.
If you’re tackling a relatively sedentary cleaning task, such as washing the dishes, you can still increase the rate at which you burn calories. For example, there’s nothing stopping you doing crouches or lunges as you scrub dirty pans. Why not skip without the rope while you’re cleaning windows? When you take this approach, every cleaning task is an opportunity to exercise.
6. Make things harder for yourself
We live in an age of convenience and gadgetry. There was a time when cleaning a kitchen floor involved a scrubbing brush, some water and lots of elbow grease. There was a time when preparing a meal involved lots of manual culinary skills. Now, however, we have tools to make just about every household task easier than it was 100 years ago. Every now and then, when time allows, ditch the gadgets in favour of good, old-fashioned hard work. Even if you expend an additional 50 calories from doing so, this can add up over the course of a month.
7. Always be working out
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. From making a bed to doing laundry, never let an opportunity to exercise pass by. For example, simply by tensing and holding your major muscle groups as you go about your daily chores, you can strengthen and tone your entire body. If you have to bend to vacuum, for example, hold some poses — and turn them into squats or lunges. After a while, you’ll be doing these things without realising it, and that’s when the real benefits will start to kick in.