Household Chores Workout
Have you ever broken a sweat while vacuuming and thought, “Hey, I’m getting my workout in!” Have you ever checked your fitness tracker after working in the yard and said, “hooray, I got extra steps!” Chores around the house and yard can definitely count as exercise, but can they replace a workout?
If you work around the house at a high enough intensity to elevate your heart rate for at least 30 minutes each day, then yes. But don’t cancel that spin class just yet! For many of us, those tasks fall into a different category of physical activity: plain old active living. If you’re trying to lose weight and wondering why your daily walk isn’t showing results, appreciating the difference between active living and purposeful exercise can tip the scales in your favor.
The first difference is intensity. After hearing stories of missed workouts justified by being substituted with strenuous house cleaning and yard work, I decided to do an experiment. I wore a heart rate monitor while doing two hours of yard work and an hour of cleaning my house. I worked hard, paid attention to my heart rate and the number of calories burned while I was active, and compared it to the same amount of time spent doing purposeful exercise. While watching me clean the house as if my life depended on it was entertaining for my family, I had a hard time keeping my heart rate high enough to stay in the target range for aerobic exercise without going to extremes (vacuum cleaner lunges, anyone?). Working in the yard wore me out, but two hours burned a paltry 200 calories.
Walking the dog, working in the yard, taking the stairs, and walking around the office are absolutely vital for your health. A recent study at the University of South Carolina found that men who reported being sedentary for more than 23 hours a week had a 64 percent greater risk of heart disease than those who were sedentary only 11 hours, even when they exercised regularly.
But for activity to count as exercise, it needs to elevate your heart rate. Effort can be measured with a heart rate monitor, manually taking your pulse during exercise, or rating your perceived level of exertion on a scale of 1 to 10. Vigorous activity doesn’t need to happen all at once; ten minutes of exercise is beneficial when the intensity is high. Consult with a fitness professional or your doctor to determine what level of activity is appropriate for you.
The second difference between active living and purposeful exercise is, well, the purpose. Purposeful exercise is time you have set aside in your day to be active. Whether the goal is to lose weight, build strength, or just get the blood pumping, having (and keeping) that appointment with yourself to be active on purpose is important. Purposeful exercise doesn’t happen spontaneously. It happens because we wanted it to.
The truth is that we need both active living and purposeful exercise in our lives to achieve balanced health. Accept those opportunities to walk the dog an extra lap and dig in the yard all weekend…after your workout.
– Heather Fuselier, CHWC, CFP, TTS
Health Advisor | Email Heather