Does doing chores count as exercise? When we think of exercise, we often envision dedicated workouts in the gym or outdoor activities like jogging. But what about the chores we do every day, like vacuuming, scrubbing, and cooking? Can these tasks contribute to our fitness? This article uncovers the fitness potential of chores.

Does doing chores count as exercise? Learn how household tasks help you burn calories and stay fit!

In this article:


The Relationship Between Chores and Exercise
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Many view exercise as happening exclusively in the gym or during structured workout sessions. However, everyday household chores can also contribute significantly to overall physical activity. While chores may not always feel like traditional forms of exercise, they involve movement and energy expenditure, which are fundamental components of physical activity.

Household chores encompass various activities, including cleaning, cooking, gardening, and yard work. These tasks require multiple movements such as bending, lifting, reaching, and walking, all of which engage different muscle groups and elevate heart rate.

Furthermore, the intensity of chores can vary depending on factors such as the size of the house, the type of task, and individual fitness levels. For instance, scrubbing floors vigorously or gardening for an extended period can be quite physically demanding and may even elevate the heart rate to levels comparable to moderate-intensity exercise.

Research has shown that incorporating chores into daily routines can have numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility. Additionally, regular physical activity, whether through structured exercise or household tasks, reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.


 Calories Burned During Common Chores
Photo by Antoni Shkraba

The number of calories burned during everyday chores varies depending on factors such as duration, the intensity of the activity, and individual factors like weight and fitness level.

To provide a clearer picture of the calorie-burning potential of everyday chores, let’s explore specific activities and their associated calorie expenditure in more detail.

Does Doing Chores Count as Exercise: Calories Burned Cooking and Cleaning

Cooking and cleaning are essential tasks in maintaining a household. While they are not classic forms of exercise, they can contribute to burning calories and increasing physical activity levels. Cooking involves a combination of movements such as chopping, stirring, and moving around the kitchen, which can elevate heart rate and engage muscles.

While the calorie-burning potential of cooking and cleaning may not be as high as more vigorous forms of exercise, they still contribute to overall energy expenditure. For example, spending 30 minutes cooking a meal may burn around 75-150 calories for a person weighing approximately 150 pounds (68 kilograms), while cleaning activities like vacuuming can burn about 100-200 calories per hour.

So, cooking and cleaning complement structured exercise and help you stay active throughout the day.

Does Doing Chores Count as Exercise: Calories Burned Scrubbing Floors

Scrubbing floors often involve vigorous physical activity, contributing to calorie burning.

Scrubbing floors engages multiple muscle groups, including the arms, shoulders, core, and legs, as you move back and forth, applying pressure to remove dirt and grime. This repetitive motion can elevate heart rate and increase calorie expenditure, making it a beneficial form of physical activity.

On average, scrubbing floors for 30 minutes can burn approximately 100-200 calories, depending on the intensity of the activity and individual factors.

Does Doing Chores Count as Exercise: Calories Burned Washing Windows

During window washing, you engage muscles in your arms, shoulders, and core as you reach, scrub, and wipe to remove dirt and grime. Additionally, squatting or kneeling to reach lower windows engages leg muscles, increasing overall calorie expenditure.

The size and number of windows, along with their height placement and individual weight and fitness level, can influence the intensity of calorie burning during window washing. However, on average, washing windows for 30 minutes can burn approximately 200 calories, making it a beneficial physical and household maintenance activity.

Does Doing Chores Count as Exercise: Calories Burned Deep Cleaning House

Deep cleaning the house involves tackling various tasks that require physical exertion and engagement of multiple muscle groups, making it an excellent opportunity for calorie burning.

Tasks such as dusting, vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, and decluttering require bending, lifting, reaching, and repetitive movements, which engage muscles in the arms, shoulders, core, and legs. Additionally, moving furniture or heavy objects during deep cleaning can further increase the intensity of the activity.

The calorie-burning potential of deep cleaning the house can vary depending on factors such as the number of rooms, the level of clutter, and individual characteristics. On average, deep cleaning the house for 30 minutes can burn approximately 200-300 calories.


Understanding the Physical Benefits of Household Chores
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Household chores offer more than just a clean living space—they also provide numerous physical benefits that contribute to overall health and well-being. Engaging in regular chores can help improve the following:

  • Cardiovascular Fitness: Activities like vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing floors improve circulation, leading to a healthier heart and reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Muscle Strength: Tasks like lifting heavy objects, scrubbing surfaces, and carrying laundry baskets can strengthen muscles in the arms, legs, back, and core, improving muscle strength and endurance.
  • Flexibility: Performing chores that involve bending, stretching, and reaching can enhance flexibility and range of motion, helping maintain joint health and reducing the risk of injury during everyday activities.

Beyond the physical benefits, household chores can also positively affect mental health. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from completing tasks can boost mood and reduce stress levels.


Video by Brooks Rehabilitation

To maximize the exercise potential of household chores, consider incorporating practical strategies into your routine.

Focus on increasing the intensity of your chores by performing them with purposeful movements and a faster pace. For example, engage your core and push the vacuum cleaner with forceful strokes while vacuuming to elevate your heart rate and increase calorie burn.

Use household items as makeshift exercise equipment to add resistance and challenge your muscles. For instance, carry heavy laundry baskets or buckets of water up and down stairs to strengthen your arms and legs.

Rotate between mopping, scrubbing, and gardening tasks to provide a full-body workout and keep your routine interesting.

Incorporate balance challenges into your chores by standing on one leg while washing dishes or reaching for items on high shelves.

Remember to take regular breaks to prevent exhaustion and listen to your body’s signals. By implementing these tips, you can transform household chores into effective workouts that improve physical fitness and overall well-being.


Does doing chores count as exercise? As we can see, doing chores can indeed count as exercise! From sweeping floors to washing dishes, each chore offers an opportunity to engage muscles, elevate heart rates, and burn calories. So, the next time you tackle a pile of laundry or scrub the bathroom tiles, consider the hidden workout accompanying these seemingly mundane tasks.