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9 Ways to Spring Clean Your Way to Fit

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist

"There's just not enough time." It's one of the most common excuses for not exercising regularly—and one of the most easily debunked. If you really are too busy to get to the gym, you don’t even have to leave your house to fit in a good workout. There are countless ways to combine exercise with daily tasks.
Statistics show that women spend more than an hour each day on cleaning, laundry and other household tasks, and that's likely to increase during spring cleaning season. Why not seize the opportunity to turn your to-do list items into major calorie burners? Whether it's routine vacuuming or scrubbing windows, nearly any household chore can double as a workout.
Carolyn Barnes, founder of the cLEAN Momma Lifestyle, has designed a series of workouts that burn more calories in less time by combining exercise and household tasks. "You can lose weight, boost metabolism and increase energy simply by applying intention, proper form and some elbow grease to your everyday chores," she says.
Let's take a look at how nine common cleaning tasks can help you get in shape, and approximately how many calories you can expect to burn.

Sweeping – 270 calories per hour

For every 60 minutes spent tidying your floors, you'll burn the equivalent of a small piece of cheesecake, while working your arms, back and core.
Fit Clean Challenge: Put the broomstick over your shoulders and behind your head. Gripping each end, twist your torso to the right and then the left for 10 to 12 repetitions to work your obliques.

Mopping – 170 calories per hour

If you use an upright mop, the back-and-forth motion will work your arms, shoulders and core. For some extra glute and leg work, sprinkle in some squats and lunges (but be cautious of slippery floors). Add an extra balance challenge by lifting one foot as you mop and then switching to the other side. If you mop on your hands and knees, you'll burn an extra 20 calories for a total of 190 per hour.

Fit Clean Challenge: Carolyn recommends a "taskercise" called the “Rag Drag”:

1. Take two damp rags and place one under each foot. If you're cleaning your floors, add a little bit of soap to the water and wring it out. For hardwood, use whatever oil you like, but go easy on the amount to prevent falling.
2. Get into a plié position (it’s a ballet term defined as a bending of the knees outward with the back held straight) with rags under each foot and your feet pointing forward, knees slightly bent and tummy muscles engaged.
3. Slide your left foot out and bring it back to the right five times. You can either put your hands on your hips or extend them and do tight circles for an extra burn.
4. Now slide your right foot out and bring it back to the left five times.

"A huge part of this routine is learning how to keep your upper body limber and relaxed with loose arms, so you can create working hands that can cook, wash dishes or fold laundry while you're burning off those love handles and working the thighs," says Carolyn. 

Vacuuming – 170 calories per hour

As you push the vacuum forward and back, you're working the biceps, triceps and shoulders, as well as the core. If it's not too awkward, switch arms now and then to work both arms. For best results, focus on posture and keep your core engaged.

Fit Clean Challenge: Carolyn uses a technique called the “Suck and Squat”:

1. Stand with your feet together while holding your vacuum. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed, your abs are engaged and your spine is long and straight.
2. Start vacuuming. As you do so, lunge forward with your right foot. Your knee should not extend beyond your toes.
3. As you lunge, make sure you are anchored down by pushing your weight into your front heel, while thrusting your hips forward.
4. Vacuum in this position for a count of eight, then switch legs and repeat.
5. As you bring your vacuum in and out, use your obliques (side stomach muscles) and make sure your hips and shoulders are square.

Ironing – 88 calories per hour

The motion of pressing the iron down and across your clothes works your arms, shoulders and back, and burns that half-cup of oatmeal from breakfast.
Fit Clean Challenge: As you stand at the ironing board, sneak in some standing exercises. Some ideas include side bends to work your oblique muscles, calf raises or knee-to-elbow twists.

Folding or hanging laundry – 68 calories per hour

It might not feel like much work, but as you match up those socks and hang shirts, you're burning the equivalent of a quarter-cup of ice cream.
Fit Clean Challenge: As you fold, do squats or lunges to work the legs and glutes. For a quick cardio boost, pause every so often to do a few jumping jacks or squat jumps.

Scrubbing bathrooms and bathtubs – 190 calories per hour 

Squatting down to clean bathtubs, toilets and floors works your glutes and quads as you clean.
Fit Clean Challenge: For an extra fitness boost, place your hands on the edge of a sink or countertop and do some push-ups between scrubs. (Make sure surfaces are dry so you don't lose your grip.)

Washing the car – 153 calories per hour

When you skip the automatic car wash and scrub off all that winter salt and grime by hand, you'll burn calories, work your muscles and get your heart rate up.
Fit Clean Challenge: Using a bucket for suds? Hold the full bucket in one hand at your waist, palm facing up, and lift it to your chest to work your bicep. After a beat, lower and repeat. After 10-12 reps, switch to your other hand. Make sure to keep your core engaged and your back straight.

Cleaning windows – 334 calories per hour

Removing a winter's worth of dirt and grime from your windows is no small feat—which is why you'll burn a whole meal's worth of calories per hour, while working the muscles in your arms, back and shoulders.
Fit Clean Challenge: Facing the window or mirror, get into a plié squat position with your toes pointing out and your feet a little more than shoulder width apart. Holding this position, spray the glass and wipe vigorously in a large clockwise motion for a count of 10, then counterclockwise before switching arms. Next, switch to a regular squat, as if you're sitting back in a chair, and wipe in a side to side motion with alternating arms. Keep your stomach muscles tight, your back straight and your weight in your heels.

Painting a room – 294 calories per hour

Ready to finally add some color to those blasé beige walls? The room isn't the only thing that will change. All that lifting, reaching and rolling will provide a serious workout, while burning the equivalent of a slice of pizza per hour. Painting is a combination of large, sweeping motions and small, precise touch-ups, and also involves plenty of squatting and stretching.
Fit Clean Challenge: Tighten your abdominals as you reach up to paint high spaces. Each time you need to load more paint on the brush or roller, squat instead of leaning down. Paint buckets can also double as weights for bicep curls or upright rows.
*Calorie-burning information based on person weighing 150 pounds.

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LISAMARIE2015 3/8/2020
I love cleaning most of the time but I do take “days off” periodically too. I love having a clean house! I don’t count it calorie wise though unless I actually sweat. My house takes a long time to clean and I am constantly spring cleaning certain items. I do my windows 2-3 times a year with my Norwex cloths because I can’t handle them dirty. Norwex makes them super easy to do but those do burn calories! Report
RO2BENT 3/8/2020
That's a lot of spring cleaning Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
When the weather is not cooperating, to get my steps in, as I fold the laundry I walk each piece to its appropriate place. This gives me my steps and keeps me moving. As I do dishes I stand on one leg then switch. This helps my balance. I dance to music as I mop!! Not huge things but every little bit helps. Report
I do some of these. It is just about adding in small increments of movements to the day. I get a few extra steps. It helps me get to my step goal without adding in extra workouts. Report
It almost makes me want to clean! Report
Great idea!! Thanks for sharing. Report
Nice to have the calories burned on things I do every day. Report
I'd just rather get it done and workout later. Report
Certainly wouldn't recommend that "Rag Drag" especially to seniors like myself, unless you're a gymnast. Stepping on to 2 slippery, soapy rags? Yikes! Report
I will be tryn this along with my other work outs Report
Hate housework. Rather work out Report
What size house does this author have?? My job is cleaning houses and even today's house didn't take an hour to vaccuum! It may have if I'd done the whole house but this was just the main floor: great room, hallway, guest bath, master bedroom, master bath, entry way, and laundry room. Report
An hour to vacuum? We have a pretty good size house. Fully carpeted. I would still never come close to vacuuming for an hour! There is nothing in this blog that I can see that reflects real life! Report
I am not sure about some of these figures - having been a pool serviceman for the city in a "past" life, I am sure it was harder to MOP than to sweep!! Report
Some of these sound dangerous .... It does seem easier to just set aside 10 minutes and do a little exercise routine. All this extra stuff in the middle of housework just makes the housework take longer anyway. I hope Sparkpeople didn't pay her to write this! Report
Cleaning house is already an exercise since I'm out of shape. I don't need to add any extras. Report
I am not a speedy housewife, but this inspires me to keep tracking exercise of any kind. I quit tracking for a while and am now trying it again as a means of finding out where I am really at in terms of exercise daily. And any encouragement, no matter how ordinary or small is an incentive. Report
This early in my journey I most definately count hard house work, I noticed the other day while scrubbing my bathtub and reaching for the other side I was in a plank position! I work up a heavy sweat when I clean the house. I work fast to keep my heart rate up. Bending, lifting, carrying laundry, engaging my abs while working, moving quickly, squatting, scrubbing hard. I spend 3 hours a day cleaning. I count an hour total of HEAVY cleaning into my fitness tracker. I love it! I sweat and burn calories and my house is clean. I love to clean and I love that it is healthy for me!
Add in spring cleaning and even better. When I am doing extra house work I work even harder. I do feel like I do after a workout after some heavy cleaning. Light cleaning I don't count, of if I only spend 5 minutes at a time. Report
I never bother to count calories expended from house cleaning...just figure I'm in good enough shape that its part of my regular metabolism expenditures..... I can see for some folks though: everyone starts at a different fitness level. If you haven't been able to vacuum house for a long time, due to medical issues--then yes, its exercise!

I do NOT consider Painting as part of "housecleaning"--LOL Unless you are a professional who does it every week, it is so rarely done that it does "find" new ways to use and stretch muscles and joints!! But most of us also do it so slowly, taking breaks as needed, that its great stretching...but not really "exercise". Report
While this is the same old, same old idea. I did like the way the article was laid out the calories or at least approximate calories. Report
This is one of those blogs someone who needs a paycheck writes, who has nothing more to say about weight loss, because it's already been said for decades now, with no real permanent solution!! Report
I greatly dislike housecleaning, but when I do I like to get it done ASAP! So I run around like a dervish and avoid taking breaks for an hour or two. I feel as if I had a brisk gym workout. I get extra exercise by dashing up and down between my basement, ground floor, and second floor for supplies, which I do not consolidate the way pros do on a cart, etc. I wash the car the same way when I go to the car wash. I think I see people looking curiously at me...but I am an old lady and don't care about such things as much. Report
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