Housework Is Exercise, But Will It Trim Your Waistline?

Relying on household chores to keep us in shape may not be in our best interest, especially if we’re trying to keep our weight down.

Researchers in Northern Ireland found that people who consider housework part of their weekly exercise routine tend to weigh more than those who report getting their exercise in more traditional ways.

Further, the more time study participants spent doing household tasks as exercise - which they considered a moderate to vigorous workout - the more extra pounds they carried.

Overestimation

It could be that individuals who report getting plenty of exercise by doing everyday tasks are overestimating the intensity or duration of the activities. They may subsequently consume more calories than they burn without realizing it.

However, we do reap substantial benefits from gardening, vacuuming, and cleaning out the garage. Any bending, squatting, reaching, and lifting we do will help keep our muscles and joints strong and flexible, and fine-tune our body’s coordination, and balance. Still, the calorie expenditure of these activities may fall short of our expectation.

Chore Calories Consumed

The question to ask is, “About how many calories do we actually burn while doing things around the house?”

To get a general idea, consider that after 30 minutes of work someone weighing 164 pounds would burn:

  • 215 calories mowing the lawn (pushing a power mower)
  • 157 calories gardening
  • 137 calories vacuuming
  • 98 calories doing light cleaning, cooking, or childcare
  • 78 calories making beds, or driving
  • 70 calories talking on the phone while standing

In 30 minutes, someone weighing 196 pounds would burn:

  • 257 calories mowing the lawn (pushing a power mower)
  • 187 calories gardening
  • 164 calories vacuuming
  • 140 calories doing light cleaning, cooking, or childcare
  • 94 calories making beds, or driving
  • 84 calories talking on the phone while standing

If we spend a half hour vacuuming and burn 137 to 164 calories, then reward ourself with a 180 calorie or higher snack - even a healthy one - it’s easy to see how we might, overtime, put on some unwanted pounds.

Weight and Blood Sugar

Naturally, the answer is not to discount the health perks of our everyday tasks, but to make sure we engage in various physical activities, including some that get our heart rate up, and challenge our muscles. This is particularly true for those wanting to lose the extra weight that makes glucose control more difficult.

For people with pre-diabetes, or diabetes, losing just five to ten percent of their body weight can improve blood glucose numbers, and those with pre-diabetes will reduce their risk of type 2 onset by 58 percent. Good reasons to keep moving—in a variety of ways.

Sources: LiveScience; Calorie Chart / LiveScience; Johns Hopkins Medicine
Photo credit: Your Best Digs

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