7 Tricks that Turn Household Chores into Legit Workouts

Updated: Mar. 11, 2020

Got laundry to fold? Dishes to wash? Floors to vacuum? Good news: You've got some free, quality workouts coming your way.


While you’re vacuuming, do walking lunges

It’s easy to turn vacuuming into a lower body workout, according to Matt Sauerhoff, fitness expert and founder of The LIV Method. Take a step forward while pushing the vacuum cleaner, allowing your front and back leg to bend while lowering yourself toward the ground. Create a 90 degree angle with both legs, keeping 70 percent of your weight on your front foot and keeping your chest up. Hold for five second then take your back leg and step forward to repeat the lunge on the other side. “This exercise is great for building strength and stability in your legs—and keeping your floors clean,” says Sauerhoff. “Staying active promotes circulation, lubricates joints, and keeps muscles from atrophying, and movement is the best medicine.” Lunging is also great when you have to pick things up off the floor, like toys, shoes, or other clutter.


While you’re dusting, strap on weights

A great way to get arms burning while dusting is to wear some ankle weights around your wrists, according to Thumbtack personal trainer Baron Lambert. Since dusting requires a lot of arm movement, even if you add just two to three pounds of extra resistance, you can get those arms burning with every swipe. “Having a little extra resistance during chores can help those arms tighten up and get stronger,” Barons says. Check out these 19 easy ways to burn 200 calories.


While you’re cooking, do butt lifts

As your stir your soup or bake your chicken, stand tall and engage your core muscles. Then, advises Kristin McGee, celebrity yoga and pilates instructor, author of Chair Yoga, do butt lifts: Lift one leg up behind you and point through the toes; lift and lower the leg a few inches up and down for 20 pulses. Repeat on the opposite side. Doing two to three reps on each leg is great for the back of the thighs, hips, hamstrings, and core muscles.


While you’re folding laundry, do squats

Place your basket of clean clothes on the floor, and instead of bending over to pick up the items to fold, squat down instead, McGee suggests. Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend the knees until your butt is level with them (but don’t let your knees go past your toes; stay slightly higher if you don’t have the range of motion to go low while maintaining your form). And be sure to engage your core as you come back up to stand. Squats will work the hips, buttocks, backs of the thighs, and the core. 


While you’re paying bills, do abdominal twists

Stand between two tables such that you can take a bill from the right and then twist to the left to pay it, suggests fitness video instructor Nikki Glor. If the table is high, you will also work your shoulders. Keep your hips forward and backside tucked under to protect your back, and engage your abs on every twist (pretend someone is about to punch you in the stomach). “You’ll get a ‘washboard’ stomach in no time,'” Glor says. Here are 8 more chores with unexpected health benefits.


While taking out the trash, do bicep curls

When you’re carrying those heavy bags from the house to the cans, curl your arms 15 times per trip. Hold the bags and keep your elbows close to your ribcage, advises Glor. Lift and lower by extending the arms all the way down toward your hips and then bringing them up toward your shoulders.”If you’re worried about the smell, just do the curls with your recycling, or you can also try doing sprints with either one,” she says. “Working intervals during cardio will work your heart more to keep it hearty and burn more calories than long, steady runs. Doing these during the week will increase your ability to run after your kids and do those fun fitness dates with friends on weekends.” 


While doing dishes, do calf raises

Glor suggests doing calf raises while you wash, and squats while you dry. Do at least 20 calf raises, where you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise up onto the balls of your feet, then lower back down to the floor. After 20, take the towel and start drying while you squat—pretend you’re sitting in an imaginary chair, or put a real one behind you and touch your butt to it; then stand back up. After 20 reps, go back to washing with calf raises until the dishes are done and voila, you’ve toned your bum! “Your leg muscles—calves, glutes, and quads—will start to tone after about a week,” Glor says. Bonus tip: Make sure those dishes weren’t serving fried, greasy food. “Eat clean, with lots of lean protein, fruits, and veggies,” she adds. “Great legs are made in the kitchen, but it’s just as much about what you eat as how much you move.” Next, find out how many calories you burn doing these 15 common chores.