If you have trouble motivating yourself to get down to the intensive house cleaning, we all need to do from time to time, consider this: you can burn quite a few calories by doing housework and raise your heart rate. Some medical bodies consider a session of housework to be the equivalent of a light to moderate aerobics workout – and it’s easy on the joints, too.
So if you consider house cleaning to be a workout, what muscle groups will you be using and toning while you get your house clean? And what are some ways that you can improve the toning and calorie-burning potential of your routine tasks?
Washing dishes: This doesn’t work too many muscles, apart from using the triceps for scrubbing very stubborn dirt off saucepans and the like. However, while you’re standing at the sink, you can spend the time doing calf stretches (standing on tiptoe then lowering yourself), leg curls and buttock clenches.
Hanging out laundry: Carrying out the laundry basket works the biceps, while pegging washing out stretches the triceps and upper back. Bending over to pick laundry out works the lower back. Depending on your technique, you can either use the bending down to pick up pegs/clothes part of the work to stretch the hamstrings (knees straight bend) or the glutes and quads (squatting down to pick up items).
Dusting: Mostly upper body stretches. However, if you have to reach high surfaces, you will be using a step-stool or chair to reach. This works the thighs and buttocks. To increase the calorie burning (and fun) potential of this chore, put on dance music and add a few hip swivels or shimmies while you work.
Washing windows: Great for toning the arms, upper back and chest muscles.
Vacuuming: A whole-body workout, particularly if you bend down to use an attachment to get into tricky corners. If you have to move furniture around or go up and down stairs, then this is an extra workout bonus.
Washing floors: Using a mop works the upper body, especially the triceps. However, for a really intense workout – and a very clean floor, use an old-fashioned scrubbing brush on your hands and knees (works the arms and shoulders) then dry the floor by scooting around it using thick towels folded under your feet to work the thighs and buttocks. Every bit as good as a treadmill or glider, but cheaper and gets your floor shining. If you’re particularly keen, you can also use this method to polish and buff floors to a very high shine. Some people swear by polishing floors with thick old socks on their feet.
Scrubbing baths, etc. Mostly works the arms. However, if you squat to reach low-down places, this works the inner thighs and buttocks. Scrubbing baths can also require you to get into some awkward positions to reach every part of it – hold that pose!
General picking up. Alternate between straight-leg bending (the old-fashioned touching your toes move) and squatting to reach stray items to stretch the hams, and work the quads and buttocks. If you collect items to be put away in a basket, you will also work the biceps carrying this around the house.