You know scooping up dust bunnies and wiping crayon-smudged walls is hard work. But could it count as exercise? The answer is yes. The trick to burning more calories, toning muscles and really getting the heart pumping as you clean is to keep moving and to perform big rhythmic movements. Try these ideas from Slim-Fast Canada (www.slimfast.ca) to enjoy a spotless space and a clean bill of health:
Scrub for strength
You know that a hearty stint of tub scrubbing makes you sweat, but does it adequately work the heart? University of Alberta researchers studied the heart rates of healthy women aged 30 to 50 as they cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed for 17 to 20 minutes. Both chores revved up heart rates-enough to count as moderately intense exercise, especially for unfit subjects.
Take more steps
A 2003 study found that increasing the number of steps taken in a day to nearly 10,000 lowered participants' blood pressure (the average person walks 3,000 to 5,000 steps a day). While cooking dinner, lay out everything you need on one counter and chop vegetables or prepare sauces on another. Trek back and forth for each utensil or ingredient. Measure your daily steps with a pedometer sold in fitness shops or drugstores.
Sweep away fat
Vacuuming counts as a moderate-intensity activity, especially when lugging around a cumbersome cleaner. Or, grab a broom instead. In a recent study from Flinders University in Australia, sweeping raised heart rates higher per minute than vacuuming.
Shape up while cleaning up
Check out the number of calories a 145-pound woman burns after 15 minutes of housecleaning, below. While nobody loves household chores, knowing that you're burning calories makes it a bit more tolerable.
Activity and number of calories burned per 15 mins