How to Turn Your Spring Cleaning into a Workout that Counts!

Spring is the perfect time for a clear out and a chance to boost your physical activity levels at the same time. But is scrubbing the floor and cleaning out the garage really a suitable replacement for your daily (minimum) 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise?

We’ve calculated the amount of physical effort the most common spring cleaning tasks involve and compared them with exercises that use a similar amount of energy based on data from The Physical Activity Compendium. The more physical effort you put into the task the more kilojoules you will burn.

Click here to find out how many kilojoules different tasks burn and five tips to ensure your spring clean gives you an optimum work out.

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As you can see from the table the key to turning your spring cleaning tasks into a workout is all about intensity. The more physical effort you put into the task the more kilojoules you will burn. All the spring cleaning activities in the table have the potential to match the energy expenditure of a more structured exercise session if carried out for at least 30 minutes in total (activities that are less than 10 minutes in duration don’t count towards the total) and are at least a moderate intensity effort. So the answer to the question we asked originally is…yes, spring cleaning tasks could suitably replace a more structured exercise session on the day they are performed. But just remember, we don’t clean like this every day so it’s still important to incorporate regular physical activity into your routine on every other day and ensure that these activities are helping you to meet the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines.

Want to get more bang for your buck? Try our top five tips to turn your spring cleaning into a workout that counts:

  1. Lunge when you vacuum – we mainly use our arms when vacuuming so to turn this into a real workout try performing some walking lunges to give your thighs and buttocks some attention too (make sure you keep your knees directly above your ankles as you lunge forward, your back straight and your core muscles engaged).
  2. Clean to music – turn the music up loud and dance whilst you’re cleaning. This makes things a little more enjoyable and will increase your intensity level so you’re burning more energy. If you want to take it a step further, set yourself a challenge to finish the task in a set number of songs and this will surely motivate you to work harder and faster.
  3. Think big movements – for activities like cleaning mirrors, shower screens, windows and glass doors, instead of making small circular movements try and make long swipes up and down instead. Squat with down movements and go up onto your toes for the up movements to give you more of a whole body workout and if you can alternate which arm you use.
  4. Step it up – spring is a good time to get all those places we often ignore, like spider webs on the cornices. Get out your stepladder to help you get to all those high places. The more you are up and down on the stepladder the more you will burn and tone those legs.
  5. Batter up – instead of vacuuming rugs or mats, take them outside, hang them up and beat them with a broom. This will use more muscles and energy than vacuuming them would.

A worldwide tool used to assess energy expenditure of different activities:
https://sites.google.com/site/compendiumofphysicalactivities/home.

Physical Activity Guidelines, which can be found here: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines.

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