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How many calories do we really burn doing chores?

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Is cleaning the house enough activity to burn calories for weight loss?

My mother-n-law, who’s gone to be with the Lord, struggled with her weight from childhood on.  She actually had her first – yes her first of many – heart attacks in her late 30’s.  She tried every pill and potion on the market in an attempt to lose weight. I can relate because I went through the same struggle of looking for a quick fix.

There was one big difference between us though. I finally “got it” that weight is only one part of the health picture and that it’s about lifestyle choices versus looking for a magical cure.  Unfortunately, she didn’t.

Back then, the easiest time of my day to workout was on lunch at work.  I was lucky that the company I worked for, BP Oil Corporate in Cleveland, had a fitness center for its employees. I would time my lunch to be able to take a 30 minute aerobic class which left enough time to take a quick shower and grab a salad for lunch.

My mother-n-law never quite understood why I wanted to get sweaty in the middle of my work day. I would explain to her how it not only made me feel better physically but mentally as well.  Exercise keeps my stress in check.

The conversation would always circle back around to weight loss and I would tell her if she wanted to lose weight, she should exercise.  Her response was always “don’t you think I do enough around here?” My answer was no.  What she was used to doing as far as exercise would not be enough for her to lose weight.  She needed to increase her activity and focus on her nutrition.

Why would I say that what she was doing was not enough?  You’ve heard me say it before – our bodies are amazing things that quickly adapt and overcome anything we throw at it.  What you do daily becomes easy for your body to handle.

Well, she wasn’t happy with my answer and said that cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc has to burn calories.  Yes that is correct. Any activity burns calories but the question is how many calories?  As a comparison a 60 minute Zumba class can burn anywhere from 500 to 750 calories depending on the intensity level.  30 minutes of jogging at 12 mph will burn about 325 calories.  30 minutes of walking at 3.0 mph which is a moderate pace will burn about 140 calories.

How do these numbers compare with average household chores?  Below are some common household activities along with what you can expect to burn if you did these chores for 30 minutes:

  • Sweeping floors about 80 calories
  • Mopping floors about 85 calories
  • Washing dishes including some walking 50 calories
  • Moving household items, furniture carrying boxes about 275 calories

Did you think household chores would burn more calories? I did too actually.  But even a combination of household chores at a vigorous level will only burn about 100 calories in 30 minutes.   Keep in mind that if you are cleaning for several hours you will be able to burn enough calories that might replace your workout for the day but it will take you longer than 60 minutes to do so.

The good news?  Anyway you look at it, when you get up and you get moving your health and wellness benefits. No matter what you choose to do, get up and get moving.  Have an amazing week.

To your health,



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About Denise

Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH.  Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise

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