You may think housework’s a great workout because it fatigues you, but have you considered that housework wipes you out because you’re out of shape?
“If someone is young and physically fit they should be able to do most normal, day-to-day housework without feeling physically stretched,” says Dr. David Beatty, MD, a retired general practitioner with 30+ years of experience and an instructor of general medicine for 20 years.
“This is not to denigrate the value of household chores. It’s important to keep moving and not to sit still for prolonged spells. Housework is one of the main reasons we get out of a chair.
“However, it’s rare to push the cardiovascular system enough to develop significant fitness by just doing domestic housework.
“Most people’s homes simply won’t generate enough work to provide exercise comparable to an hour in the gym, trail running or taking part in a competitive team sport.”
Typical housework excludes anomalous tasks of heavy resistance such as moving furniture and repeatedly using a staircase to transport heavy items.
The usual chores around a house – sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, wiping, scrubbing, changing bedsheets, carrying laundry, ironing, etc., will not feel taxing to a physically fit body.
If you normally feel worked-over from performing housework, this doesn’t mean that cleaning the house is an effective form of exercise. Instead, it means you’re in poor physical condition.
Housework shouldn’t be thought of as a workout. Rather, it should be something that’s a breeze because you do REAL workouts.
A real workout program is a regimen of both cardio exercise and resistance training.
Being physically fit via strength training and aerobic activity will make housework feel like a breeze.
Instead of thinking of housework as a form of effective exercise, you should see it as a gauge for physical fitness.
Examples of Sustained Aerobic Activity
- Brisk or hill walking
- Jogging, trail running
- Use of cardio equipment
- Step class, aerobics class
- Combo aerobics and resistance classes such as “bootcamp”
- Karate class
Below Are Images Showing Great Strength Training Exercises
Housework is not a form of effective exercise. It gets done as it’s needed. It’s often done while feeling stressed, which is no circumstance under which to exercise to benefit your body.
It may be inconsisently done, and exercise should be consistent — a predictable fixture to your body.
Cleaning the house is also riddled with moving asymmetrically, which can cause muscle/joint imbalances leading to pain. For example, one side of your body will do nearly all the pushing of the vacuum cleaner.
Housework shouldn’t be done for exercise. Exercise should be done to make housework a lot easier.
Dr. Beatty has worked in primary medicine, surgery, accident and emergency, OBGYN, pediatrics and chronic disease management. He is the Doctor of Medicine for Strong Home Gym.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.