Home » Health & Wellbeing » How Many Calories Are Burned Doing Household Chores
You want to lose weight, but the gyms are off limits and you hate home workouts. All hope is lost, right?… Wrong.
Whilst having access to a gym is a great way to keep you motivated and progressing with your weight loss goals, the fact that they are shut, doesn’t mean you have to put your fat loss goals on hold.
When its comes to losing weight, we often assume that we need to be doing dedicated workouts.
In reality, losing weight just comes down to creating a calorie deficit, which can be done without ever having to step foot in a gym (which is fortunate, considering they’re all closed).
In fact, It could be achieved through doing nothing but simple household chores.
Time to put down the dumbbells and pick up the duster.
How Your Body Burns Calories
Your body never stops burning calories.
It is quite literally a calorie burning machine.
But how it goes about burning calories is often misunderstood.
At the end of each day you will have burned a certain number of calories. This is known as your TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
Made up through a combination of your metabolism, plus any extra calories burned through activities such as exercise or general activities in your day to day life.
It’s often thought that we burn most of our calories through exercising. After all, fighting against a heavy deadlift or doing interval sprints repeatedly for 20 minutes is pretty taxing, so it’s reasonable to think that this is when our body transforms into calorie furnace, but it’s not the case.
In fact, exercise accounts for a pretty small percentage of our total daily calorie expenditure.
Most of the calories you burn comes from your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), more commonly known as your Metabolism.
This is the number of calories your body burns to keep you functioning, and is based on factors such as your age, weight, gender, muscle mass, height etc.
After this, the next biggest chunk of calorie expenditure comes form NEAT.
NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is essential any activity that isn’t specifically planned exercise, such as cooking, vacuuming, or doing the dishes.
Whilst these aren’t necessarily demanding activities in of themselves, it is the accumulative effect over the course of the day that means they have a substantial impact on our overall daily calorie burn and help us achieve a calorie deficit.
Along with being a critical component in whether we maintain, lose or gain weight (1), keeping our NEAT levels high also decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (2)
NEAT and Household Chores
The number of calories burned from doing tasks around the home will differ with each individual, as genetics still plays a role, but no matter the person, getting stuck into a few household tasks is a great way to work up a sweat. (3)
Getting out into the garden and doing outdoor tasks is one of the more labour intensive household chores and so is also one of the most effective for increasing NEAT levels.
30 minutes of digging up the garden will burn approx. 300 calories, the same as cycling on a stationary bike for the same period of time
Weeding your garden will burn around 200 calories, the equivalent of playing a game of badminton for half an hour.
Spend the afternoon mowing the lawn and you’ll burn 245 calories and you’ll have done the equivalent of 30 minutes of Martial Arts.
We may try and put them off for as long as possible, but doing chores around the house is a great way to melt away body fat.
Painting and Wallpapering can burn the equivalent number of calories as a moderate calisthenics session – around 400 per hour.
Building and moving furniture will see you burn off 266 calories, the same number as a vigorous weight training session.
Heavy cleaning tasks, such as windows, showers or the car will see you burn the same number of calories as attending a yoga class.
Make NEAT A Priority
These are just some of the ways we can continue to progress with out weight loss goals now and even when gyms reopen.
But it doesn’t have to stop at household chores. If you’re working from home, opting for a standing desk rather than a conventional one can help burn extra calories, when out and about, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalators and swap driving your car for a walk to your destination if possible.
Make a conscious effort to keep yourself moving and busy and you’ll be burning through calories like never before.
Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;16(4)
Villablanca PA, Alegria JR, Mookadam F, et al. Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis in Obesity Management, Maypo Clinic, 2015
Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (online) Available at: www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities (Accessed on 16/07/2020)
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