Household Chores That Burn Calories

a young man vacuuming carpet in his home

It’s important to get enough exercise, but it isn’t always easy to squeeze in. With days filled with work, household chores, errands, and time with family and friends, you may think there’s no time left for fitness. This can be especially true during the holidays when cooking, cleaning, shopping, and getting ready for guests can take up what little free time you do have.

It may help to remember that all kinds of physical activity – not just formal exercise programs – burn calories and strengthen muscles. As long as you’re working at something hard enough to get you breathing harder and your heart beating faster, and you’re doing it for at least 10 minutes straight, you’re exercising.

Make your household chores count by mopping the floor or vacuuming at a pace fast enough to get your heart pumping. A 150–pound person can burn about 150 calories an hour this way. Have young children at home? Playing with them can burn about 216 calories per hour.

Yard work and gardening are also ways to burn calories and strengthen your arm, leg, and back muscles while crossing some items off your to-do list. Pushing a lawn mower, raking leaves, shoveling, and other outdoor chores can be an effective workout.

Just remember to warm up beforehand as you would with any exercise, and check with your doctor, especially if you’re not used to exertion.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


American Cancer Society news stories are copyrighted material and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.