Make Your Home a Calorie-Burning Haven

Our great-great-grandparents burned twice as many calories as we do—and they did it without a 30-minute workout and gym fees!

Researchers set up a historical village at a theme park north of Sydney, Australia, to simulate life as it was for early European settlers. Their results were astonishing: the settlers walked up to 10 miles more each day—and burned 2.3 times as many calories–as modern Australians who go to office jobs.[i]

So, how can you burn calories like an old-time settler? Do household chores! It’s an easy way to make movement a natural part of your life, and you’ll lose weight to boot. Here’s a guide to how many calories a 150-lb. person burns per hour in common household tasks:

1. Beautify Your Yard

gardening Blue Zones

  • Dump the riding lawnmower and push instead: 430 calories
  • Rake the front yard: 285 calories
  • Pull some weeds: 320 calories
  • Trim the shrubs and hedges: 320 calories
  • Tend the garden: 285 calories

2. Get Your House Spic-and-Span

housework Blue Zones

  • Sweep the floor: 285 calories
  • Now, mop: 250 calories
  • Better yet, use some elbow grease and scrub!: 270 calories
  • Vacuum: 250 calories
  • General light cleaning: 241 calories
  • Heavy cleaning: 432

3. Makeover Your Home

housework exercise

  • Rearrange the living room (moving furniture): 500 calories
  • Paint the spare bedroom: 320 calories

4. Stay Warm in Winter

yardwork exercise

  • Chopping wood: 430 calories
  • Ice scraping: 240 calories
  • Shoveling snow: 430 calories
  • Stacking wood: 360 calories
  • Using a push snow blower: 320 calories

5. Bake Like Grandma

baking Blue Zones

Bake using manual appliances: 145 calories

By spending just two hours working in your yard and two hours cleaning your home each week, you’ll burn approximately 1,150 extra calories per week.[iii] Keep that up all year, and you’ll lose 17 pounds–without dieting or going to the gym.

Plus, your house and yard will look amazing.

[i] Australia. Egger, G.J.; Vogels, N.; Westerterp, K.R., Estimating historical changes in physical activity levels. Med J Aust. 2001 Dec 3-17;175(11-12):635-6.

[ii] American Cancer Society calorie calculator based on data from the American Heart Association, Calorie Control Council, National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/calculators/app/exercise-counts-calculator; Farmer’s Almanac guide to spring and winter chores, http://www.farmersalmanac.com/health/2010/12/06/get-fit-with-winter-chores-and-fun/; http://www.farmersalmanac.com/health/2010/04/05/get-in-shape-with-spring-chores/

[iii] Based on calories burned by a 150-lb. person during two hours of cleaning, at 250 calories per hour, and two hours of mixed yard work, at 350 calories per hour

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October 1, 2011