Spring-Cleaning: Here’s How Many Calories You Burn During 15 Common Chores
You’ll won’t necessarily reach a fat-burning heart rate, but spring cleaning can definitely keep your metabolism cranking.
Doing chores around the house may not feel as much like exercise as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but if you spend enough time cleaning the calories can add up. We calculated a rough estimate for how many calories you burn after 30 minutes of various spring-cleaning activities based on the average weights of American women (166 pounds) and men (195 pounds) over the age of 20, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and A Calorie Calculator.
(Note these are averages and tend to refer to cis men and women, but we hope all our beloved readers find this information fun and enlightening!)
Sweeping the floors
The more vigorously you sweep, the better the workout for both arms and legs. On average, women can burn 87 calories and men can burn a total of 102 calories with a half-hour of sweeping.
Vacuuming burns slightly more calories than sweeping, in part because of the added weight of a vacuum. In 30 minutes, vacuuming burns 94 calories for women and 111 calories for men. You may even be motivated to vacuum the whole house.
Dusting the furniture
Dusting might be something to do while waiting on hold with customer service, but it can count as a bit of exercise. Women can burn 57 calories, while men can burn 66 calories in just 30 minutes.
Washing dishes by hand
Dishwashers save you time and energy but washing your dishes by hand burns calories. In just 30 minutes, women can burn 49 calories while men can burn 58 calories.
Taking out the trash
Is it just us, or is there something uniquely satisfying about taking out the garbage? There’s more to this chore: It can burn 57 calories for women and 58 calories for men—plus, depending on how long your driveway is, you earn some extra steps.
Organizing your bedroom
Spring-cleaning often involves clearing out the clutter, which often means squatting, reaching and trips up and down the stairs. Decluttering the bedroom can burn up to 189 calories for women and 223 calories for men. (Also, you might sleep better.)
Scrubbing the bathtub
Scrubbing the bathtub and wiping down walls can feel like a full-body workout. After 30 minutes, women can burn up to 106 calories and men lose up to 124 calories. Scrubbing back and forth can help build your upper body strength.
From the inside and out, you can burn calories when washing your windows. You’ll go up and down a step stool or ladder, making this is a full-body workout for arms and legs. In just a 30-minute window washing session, women can burn 126 calories and men 149 calories.
Rearranging your living room furniture
Rearranging furniture can be daunting, but it does count as weightlifting and could be a big help when it comes to getting some exercise. Moving things around in the living room can burn up to 189 calories for women and 221 calories for men in 30 minutes.
Sweeping the front walk
Similar to sweeping the floors inside your home, sweeping the front walk, patio or deck can help burn calories. Thirty minutes of outdoor sweeping can burn off 113 calories for women and 133 calories for men.
Washing the car
For really messy situations, the carwash drive-thru makes sense, but for less heavy-duty jobs, wash your car by hand. After just 30 minutes, women burn 76 calories and men burn off 89 calories.
Caring for plants is therapeutic and can also help you burn more calories. You’ll either be lugging around a heavy watering can, or making trips back and forth to the sink. Women burn off 57 calories, and men burn off 66 calories per 30 minutes while tending to greenery.
Mowing the lawn
A push-mower maximizes how many calories you burn in 30 minutes: Women can burn 170 calories while men can burn 199 calories, all while getting some fresh air and keeping your lawn neat and orderly.
Cleaning out your garden and pulling weeds can build and strengthen muscles, and 30 minutes of pulling weeds can help women burn 132 calories and 155 calories for men. Gardening for an hour can burn over 200 calories…plus it’s good for combating climate change and improving your diet, too!
Moving boxes of winter clothes into the attic
Spring-cleaning is the perfect time to move your winter clothes out of the way to make room for spring and summer clothes. Moving boxes from the bedroom to the attic by going up and down the stairs burns a significant amount of calories. In just 30 minutes, women can burn 302 calories and men can burn 354 calories.
What about other chores?
You can calculate approximate calories burned with this equation. Here’s how it works:
- Find the metabolic equivalent (MET) of the activity, which is the intensity rate you’re exerting. Don’t worry: Arizona State University and the National Cancer Institute already did that for you.
- Multiply the MET by 3.5 (the number of milliliters of oxygen you consume per kilogram of your body weight)
- Multiply that number by your weight in kilograms (to convert from pounds, divide your weight by 2.2046)
- Divide that number by 1,000 (so you’re working in liters instead of milliliters)
- Multiply that number by 5, since you burn five calories for every liter of oxygen you breathe in
- Last but not least, multiply that by the number of minutes you engaged in the activity. That’s the number of calories burned.
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Additional writing and reporting by Jaime Stathis.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Body Measurements”
- CalorieLab: “Burned”
- Arizona State University and National Cancer Institute: “Compendium of Physical Activities”