Monday, August 9, 2010

The Housework Workout: Myth or Reality?

How am I going to find time for my treadmill
intervals with all these dishes to do?
A few months ago I wrote about a friend who claimed housework as an excuse for why she could not exercise during the day, and hypothesized on how many calories she could potentially burn while cleaning her house.  I was skeptical about whether housecleaning would really burn enough calories on a regular basis to get someone off the hook for a workout.

I mean, I guess it really depends on how bad you let your house get before you really clean.  If you're the kind of person who cleans every day, this burn is probably minimal because the deep clean doesn't require as much work.  But if you put it off until 45 minutes before dinner guests show up, well, we may have something there.

When I was a stay at home mom, my house was spotless.  I swept, mopped, dusted, and tidied every day and wow, it was nice.  Then I went back to work, and when my sister came to visit me she very delicately suggested that I get a maid.  Yeah.  True story. It was so awesome.  And if I had a proper broom I would have smacked her upside the head with it.  But I don't; I use an electric broom. My old-school broom fell behind the fridge and has half its handle cut off and a face painted on it, which is a whole other story that I won't get into now.

ANYWAY.  So now I get to do my deep cleaning about once a week, and apparently I suck at it.  Maybe its because the deep clean is happening while simultaneously making rocket blast-off sounds, impersonating Darth Vader, building forts, and troubleshooting the rescue of lego men from the clutches of a garbage truck gone haywire. Did you know that Chewbacca's favorite thing to do on the Millennium Falcon is sweep under the beds?  You do now!

So ANYWAY, last weekend while Princess Leia (why do I never get to be Han Solo?) was fighting the Stormtroopers that were hiding in the cobwebs in the skylights, I thought to myself, "I have been in constant motion since I woke up.  I'm bound to be burning some fuel with all of this cleaning and playing. I wonder if this could count as cardio!"

That's actually what I thought, like, word for word.  Then I said, "I got 'em all, Luke!  Mission accomplished!  Back to the X-wing!"  I don't know if that's something Princess Leia would say or not but it sounded good.

SO ANYWAY, I decided to use my GoWearFit to see just how effective a house-cleaning workout could be.  This particular workout was done in the span of two hours, during which I hauled/sorted/loaded laundry, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher, swept/mopped/vacuumed floors, washed windows, dusted ceiling fans and furniture, scrubbed kitchen appliances, emptied trash cans, changed the litter box, changed bed sheets, and put away clothes.  I was in constant motion, I even worked up a sweat! 

And at the end of that hour I had burned 425 calories.  Not....exactly....awesome.

I mean, its better than sitting on my butt watching HGTV, but I wouldn't call that a workout.  I had burned 325 calories in an hour that morning at the gym and had not been working that hard.  To burn just 425 in two hours of housework, considering the volume of stuff I had done and how realistic it is to think the average person is doing that three to four times a week, well, sorry friends.  In my book, unless you are a professional housekeeper for a rock band, cleaning is not a reliable source of cardio.

So, in my opinion, we should just forget about cleaning and workout more.

That's what Princess Leia would do.

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