Woman vacuuming cushions on couch for easy calorie burning

Best Cardio Chores to Burn Calories at Home

Let’s be honest: cardio workouts and house cleaning can be boring. But no one likes a dirty house and the benefits of regular exercise are undeniable.

Still, it’s tough to find the motivation to work out after cleaning and vice versa; many times, we have to choose between household chores and a good calorie-burning session. Turns out there’s a simple solution: workout as you clean your house.

We’ve put together an exclusive full-body workout to spice up your house-cleaning session.


Benefits of using household chores to burn calories

Early 30s woman smiling in the kitch with calories scale
Enjoy a healthier you in a clean house


Keeping up with a clean house is hard work. There’s a reason you feel tired after sweeping, vacuuming and doing laundry.

Focused body movement while cleaning will give you:

  • The calorie burn you want
  • A more positive attitude toward yourself and your fitness goals
  • The comfort of a clean house
  • More time to go about your day


Is cleaning a good workout?

Absolutely! Think of mopping and sweeping as an easy fitness routine—you’ll start seeing both activities in a different light and it’ll be easier to be motivated to do them regularly.

“Cleaning can be a fabulous workout. Getting your heart rate up provides a great cardio workout,” said Nakia Smith, RN, a Wellness Specialist at Life Extension. “And, you can incorporate interval and strength training into your cleaning routine to get the most out of it.”


How many calories can I burn in a daily household routine?

Some chores will burn more calories than others, but the ones that involve full body movement are the most effective.


Adult man doing chores washing a car
A great way to break a sweat and save money.

Five chores that burn the most calories in an hour:

  1. Vacuuming burns about 150 calories
  2. Sweeping and mopping burn about 160 calories
  3. Cleaning your windows and sliding glass doors burn about 180 calories
  4. Dusting burns about 170 calories
  5. Besides saving you some money, washing your car burns about 230 calories

“Moving groceries or furniture up and down stairs or at a brisk pace gives the biggest calorie burn,” Smith explained. “Next is moving bigger pieces of furniture around, followed by doing more tasks at once and utilizing more parts of your body.”


How to increase intensity of cleaning chores

To get a better fat burning session with your cleaning tasks, you can always make them more challenging. Us resistance bands while you dust or do laundry to really break a sweat.

Smiling woman streching a resistance band while cleaning
Challenge your cleaning with resistance bands

Two ways to use resistance bands while you clean:

Mini bands will help you feel the burn when doing chores such as dusting, buffing and wiping.

Place a mini band around your wrists with your palms facing down. Hold one hand in place while you stretch over a surface to clean, dust or buff. This will target shoulders, upper back and arm strength while you clean. Repeat with the other arm.

Loop bands can be great for chores that require leg work.

Place the loop band up to your thighs (about four fingers-width above your knees) while you vacuum, sweep or do laundry. This will target and strengthen hips, glutes and leg muscles.

As Smith explained, “the key to making house cleaning more challenging is to get your heart rate up and add compound movements to your routine. This gets more muscle groups and joints moving.”


Here are five more ways to increase resistance in household chores:

Red Clock sorround by cleaning supplies
Set a timer for each task
  1. Pick up the pace when you clean the house: The faster you go, the higher you’ll get your heart rate. Time yourself each week and see if you can beat your previous time.
  2. Add periods of faster cardio with a period of rest: Let’s say you’re vacuuming the floor. Do 30 seconds of lunge vacuuming, followed by 30 seconds of standing vacuuming. Don’t forget to engage your belly and torso muscles and keep your back straight.
  3. Increase the pressure when scrubbing, dusting or buffing: The more pressure you apply when you’re cleaning the more your muscles will work. So, scrub hard when you’re scouring the tub; it will intensify the whole cleaning experience.
  4. Squat to pick up: Squatting is a compound movement that will make cleaning easier by helping you increase your mobility. If you can’t fully get down into a squat, use a chair to sit down and stand up. Smith added that squatting is also about safety: “As an RN I was taught to squat to pick things up or lift a patient. Not only does it protect your back from injury, it’s an awesome leg workout.” 
  5. Add a movement: If you are washing dishes, there’s nothing stopping you from doing a kick-back or side kick. Add lunges or hold a squat when you’re vacuuming. These exercises help strengthen the glutes, tone your body and increase mobility.


Life Extension’s exclusive full-body house-cleaning cardio workout

Woman with a mop flexing her bicep working out while doing house cleaning
Get ready to bring cleaning to a new level

Cleaning by itself isn’t going to generate a huge calorie burn, according to Smith; she estimated a 150-pound person would burn about 220 calories per hour.

That’s why she recommends punctuating your cleaning routine with a series of five moves that will keep your heart rate up and offer a full body cardio workout. The moves are intended to be done in between chores to increase your total burn. For example, after you clean the kitchen counters, do one round of one of the house-cleaning cardio moves below, then sweep the floor and do another round.

Try to do three to five rounds total. The key for getting the most calorie burn is to “pay attention to your heart rate and clean at a fast pace to keep it elevated,” Smith explained.


5 Moves to pump up your cleaning session

  1. High Knees: Start with your feet hip-width apart andbring your left or right knee to your chest. Switch legs. Alternate your legs at a fast pace for 15 to 20 seconds.

    • To modify, simply march in place.

  2. Mountain Climbers: Hold a plank position, bring your left or right knee up to your chest and alternate at a fast pace. Repeat 12 to 15 times.

    • Make sure you support your weight using your shoulders, upper back and abdominal muscles.
    • Your arms should be directly below your shoulders, creating a straight line to the floor.
    • Use your lower abdominal muscles to bring your knee to your chest.
    • If you need to modify, slow down the pace.

  3. Jumping Jacks: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. At a fast pace, jump and spread legs wide (past shoulder-width) while bringing your arms above the head, palms touching. Repeat 12 to 15 times.

    • To modify, do one leg at a time while your arms meet above the head. Clapping is a great way to know you’re doing it correctly.

  4. Squat Reaches: Place feet hip-width apart, toes facing forward. Squat and reach with your arms straight above your head when you stand up. Repeat 12 to 15 times.

    • Make sure your knees don’t bend inwards or go over your feet.
    • Push with your glutes and leg muscles and keep your back straight.
    • To modify, use a chair to squat and stand up while you reach up with yourarms.

  5. Plank Jacks: Start in a plank position. At a fast pace, spread your legs past shoulder-width and bring them back to the center. Repeat 12 to 15 times.

    • Make sure you support your weight using your upper back and abdominal muscles.
    • Your arms should be directly below your shoulders, creating a straight line from your shoulders to the floor.
    • Your hips should stay in place; no swaying to one side or the other.
    •  If you need to modify, slow down the pace and lightly tap with your toes on each side, one leg at a time.

Six tips to keep in mind:

  1. One round of each exercise takes about two minutes and gets your heart rate going. (Yes, it still counts if you just do one round of these moves.)
  2. The more resistance and intensity you add, the more you’ll feel the burn.
  3. If you can’t do the number of repetitions suggested for each move, aim to do as many as you can.
  4. You can modify each move if any of them are too difficult. Once you feel more confident, you can always challenge yourself and add resistance. You also can adjust the number or rounds and repetitions according to your time and needs.
  5. If you don’t have a lot of time, choose three out of the five moves. Do each move for 45 seconds to one minute.
  6. Creating a daily routine that incorporates healthy lifestyle choices is the key to maintaining a healthy weight. And why not get a clean house in the process?

About the Author: Jessica Monge has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences & neuroscience and a master's degree in comparative studies and related languages from Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a tutor, freelance writer and editor before joining Life Extension, where she is currently a Digital Content Writer.