I like to turn everything into a fitness activity and that includes household chores. Every weekend I clean my house from one end to the other and, as part of an active lifestlye, I want to get the most out of it. Doing chores burns calories, increases your heart rate for aerobic endurance (heart and lung health), helps you loose weight, and some chores can help build muscle too! Additionally, having a clean environment improves hygiene and sanitation, reduces stress and depression / anxiety, and increases productivity and happiness. All around household chores can really improve multiple aspects of your wellbeing.
Here are a few tips on how you can get the most out of your household chores too:
~ First, throw on your sneakers and put on some upbeat music. Tossing is some extra dance moves is a fun way to work up a sweat.
~ Before you begin, warm up with this quickie routine: 30 seconds of jumping jax, 10 pushups (modified on your knees is fine), 10 ab crunches, and 10 squats. For an added challenge, do this routine in between specific chores (for example, after you finish the dishes do these exercises before folding the laundry).
~ Turn your work into workout moves! Get creative. Here are a few ideas:
1) Peform squats to pick up items from floors and tables. Keep your back straight, squat deeply by bending your knees and hinging at the waist. If you have a small child, put the child on one of your hips and do the squat to burn extra calories. Switch the hip on which the child sits halfway through your clean up.
2) Bring that squat into play (minus the child) when doing chores such as scrubing the toilet or tub, pulling weeds, or wiping down the coffee table. Spread your feet a little wider than your hips and drop your booty down as far as you can go. Focus on strong core muscles to maintain balance.
3) Work those abs when you sweep, vaccum, or rake your lawn by activating your abdominal muscles as you extend the broom / vaccum / rake as far out as possible then draw it in with a strong core.
4) For added strength training, move your furniture every time you vaccum. Be sure to use good form by keeping your back strait and bending at the knees. Remember: lift with your legs, not your back.
5) Strap on those knee pads and come down to the floor into a tabletop position and scrub those linoleum and tile floors by hand - just like in the military. This will really tackle multiple areas of your body. Be sure you keep those abs and lower back strong so that your back does not sag down.
6) Condition your shoulders by washing windows and mirrors in a circular motion with a rag (although a wadded up newspaper works best, but is bad on the environment). Be sure to switch the direction of your circles, and don't forget to switch arms - if you do all your work with just one arm you can create a physical dominance on one side. Think: balance.
7) Lean down those biceps. When empting the dishwasher, do 3 bicep curls with every moderate to heavy item before putting it away. Remember to work both arms evenly. Additionally, you can do tricep kickbacks to work on the underarm flab.
8) Washing your dishes by hand? Get creative at the sink. One idea is to improve your balance by practicing the yoga tree pose - it's a single leg balance. Or stand on your tipy-toes to work your calves.
9) Wash your delicates and curtains by hand in the bath tub by rubbing the cloths againt themselves. Keep those core muscles strong and don't lean too far over the tub to protect your back. Then hang them up to dry.
10) Forget the drive through car wash; wash your car by hand. Use long sweeping motions to get the hood and roof, and squat low to scrub those tires.
11) Most of us spend countless hours in the kitchen cooking. This is a great time to turn up the tunes and dance while you cook to shed some extra calories. Swing those hips while you stir the pot on the stove. Spin, dance, or walk circles while you wait (just between you and me: I like to practice ballet when I'm in the kitchen - something I've done since I was a teen - and, no, I've never had a ballet class in my life :). Other exercises you can do while cooking include buttocks squeezes, walking on your toes, and strengthening your good posture muscles by pulling your spine upright and drawing your belly button to your back.
~ Be sure to take a few minutes to stretch and cool down when you're done to reduce injury and muscle soreness. Bend down and touch your toes for the hamstrings. Pull your arm across your chest for the upper back. Stretch your arm strait out and pull your fingers back toward your body to open your wrist and forearm. These are just a a few stretching ideas.
Actual calorie burning will differ from person to person, however based on a 150 pound person, general house cleaning burns approximately 190 calories per hour. But if you incoorporate the above workout extras you'll get much more from your household chores.
As with any exercise, it's all about practice and maintaining posture. Be careful to protect your back while doing household chores. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are especially susceptible to herniated discs, usually caused by sharp forward bending movements. Engage your core muscles at all times to protect your body. You can also help protect your lower back by stretching your hamstring muscles.
There are many ways to get in a good workout without going to the gym.
Get creative; get up and get active!
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