Vacuuming. . .mopping. . .dishes. . .laundry. Maintaining a clean home can feel like a monotonous to-do list that has no end in sight. In today’s busy world, finding time to do it all and go to the gym can sometimes feel impossible and a choice of one over the other must be made. The good news is that in addition to keeping your home in shape, housework can do wonders for your body as well. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise each day – and those chores you’re doing count!
Creating a fun atmosphere and setting it up like any other workout is key. Set a timer for at least 30 minutes. Don’t allow yourself to stop until the timer is ringing. For many, keeping an eye on the timer can be agonizingly slow. Create a playlist of music with at least 120 beats per minute and blast the tunes while you go. This specific tempo will unconsciously allow you to increase the rate at which you are exercising and distract you from the task at hand.
Getting the most cardio benefits out of chores can be pretty simple. Some housework options seem obvious – vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping all require multiple muscle groups and are especially great for the core. Make sure to tighten the abdominal muscles while doing them to achieve the maximum results. Cleaning windows and dusting are two other chores that utilize abs, but also create a great workout for arms as well.
Some chores – for example, folding laundry or washing dishes by hand – may seem like they aren’t going to add anything to a workout, but that doesn’t have to be so; some extra creativity is required. Try adding some sets or, better yet, super sets (back to back sets of different exercises with no break in between) while you work. Some good options are calf raises, squats and wall sits. Because you are focused on a task, you will be able to maintain each exercise for longer.
As with any workout program, listen to your body. If you never completed your household tasks with intensity, start slow and add tasks over time. If you’ve had prior injuries, ask your doctor for tips to maximize your workout without putting you at risk for further injury. Consider finding a great pair of workout shoes that will only be used for indoor workouts (to provide you with stability without counteracting all of the cleaning that is being done). Housework shouldn’t be the only exercise happening, but it’s a great way to squeeze in some extra – especially helping keep off that extra insulation that many of us seem to gain during the cold winter months.