Calories Burned: Household Chores vs. Typical Workout

by Jackie on November 8, 2012

While I may not always get in my daily workout, I always do some kind of household chore each day.  So, I was curious how the number of calories burned doing chores compared to the number of calories burned while working out.  I was surprised to see that the number of calories burned doing household chores can really add up.  Read on to see how many calories you are burning each day during your daily cleaning routine.  You may choose to skip your workout today and instead have a sparkling clean house!


Yard Work

One of the most labor intensive household chores, yard work is a major calorie burner!  Digging and raking leaves not only burn tons of calories but also works major muscles like your back, legs, and arms.  This time of year there are plenty of leaves to rake and at 225 calories burned every 30 minutes you will burn as much in one hour as you would at your aerobics class.

Now is the perfect time to till your garden.  Do it yourself, 30 minutes of digging will burn about 315 calories, which is the same amount burned by 45 minutes of bicycling on flat terrain.   Digging also tones calf, thigh, arm, and shoulder muscles.

Weeding will burn over 200 calories per hour and mowing the lawn approximately 325 calories per hour.


Indoor Chores

Whether you are cleaning the bathroom or doing the wash you are moving around which burns calories.  Here is a list of the calories you burn performing some typical indoor household chores.

  • Scrubbing your bathroom for 30 minutes burns approximately 150 calories while toning muscles in your back, arms, and shoulders.
  • Cleaning windows for 30 minutes burns 125 calories, the same number of calories burned in a 15 minute hike.
  • One hour of cooking burns approximately 150 calories.
  • Dusting also burns 150 calories in one hour.
  • In just 30 minutes you can burn over 150 calories scrubbing the floor.
  • Pushing the vacuum around the house for an hour will burn 240 calories or more.


Check out the following list of common household chores and aerobic/sports related activities to see how the number of calories burned per hour compare.


Household Chores

Dressing and/or feeding a child 177

Carrying heavy loads 472

General carpentry 207

General gardening tasks 295

Heavy house cleaning 266

Light house cleaning 148

Mowing the lawn 325

Painting, scraping, plastering 266

Preparing food 148

Sweeping the garage 236


Aerobic and Sports Activities

Aerobics, high impact 511

Aerobics, low impact 365

Aerobics, water 292

Ballroom dancing 219

Baseball or softball 365

Basketball 584

Bicycling (10 mph) 292

Bowling 219

Canoeing 256

Dancing 354

Golfing, carrying clubs 329

Hiking 438

Ice skating 511

Jogging (5 mph) 584

Rollerblading 913

Rope jumping 730

Rowing, stationary 511

Running (8 mph) 986

Skiing, cross-country 511

Skiing, downhill 365

Soccer 413

Stair treadmill 657

Stretching 180

Swimming laps 511

Tai chi 292

Tennis 584

Weightlifting, free weight, Nautilus, or universal type 219




Health Contributor at Creative Bioscience
I'm a fitness nut. I know what you're thinking, one of these people who has never been fat a day in her life, and can eat whatever she wants. The truth is I struggled with my weight growing up and lived in a household where everything seemed to be fried. Once I got away from home I realized I had the choice to eat and exercise how I wanted. I've gained a lot of insight into working as a personal trainer, and feel I can relate to others that were in my situation. I think if I can do it then you can to, and if you want to start kicking butt then hop on board and lets get started.

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Madelyn November 10, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I almost spit out my coffee when I read that cooking burns calories -lol! When I cook, I’m so busy snacking that I’m sure the calories work in the opposite direction for me.  I really appreciate you taking the time to list all of these since it will help me to better gauge the number of calories I’m burning vs. the number I eat each day. I just started doing different forms of aerobic dancing, and so far, I love it! One of my friends I work with at DISH showed me that I can rent workout DVDs through my Blockbuster @Home membership I have through DISH. I was surprised by the variety that they carry, and I love that I don’t have to slow down my busy life to pick them up since they’re sent straight to my mailbox. I think between dancing, cleaning, and not snacking while I cook, I’ll have whittled down my waist in no time!


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