Body Buzz: Clean Up, Shape Up!
by Sasha Kanal
April’s here and if you haven’t done your spring-cleaning already, now’s the time to start, says Sasha Kanal. Why not get (or better still clean!) two birds with one stone while you’re at it and use any household chores to get moving?
We all know that the sense of achievement gained from spring-cleaning has a positive effect on the mind, but can a good old spring clean and clear-out be good for your body? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’!
Doctors and fitness professionals have long extolled the benefits of adding extra movement into your lifestyle – from walking instead of driving to climbing stairs instead of taking the lift. Although wielding a feather duster is never going to burn as many calories as going for a jog or bike ride and isn’t a substitute for aerobic activity, it’s still possible to maximise upon these seemingly mundane movements and reap rewards for your body.
So just how many calories can potentially be burned doing household chores? This all depends on how long you spend doing these activities, as well as your existing fitness level and weight. As a guide, vacuuming can burn on average 120 calories, gardening almost 160 and general cleaning around 125.
Aside from the stats, it’s also about capitalising on the repetitious nature of chores to build strength too. The key is to do it correctly to avoid strain and injury and in turn see the benefits.
Tips for turning housework into a workout
- Lunge while you hoover. Keep your upper body straight with shoulders relaxed and back. With feet and toes pointed ahead, step one foot forward and lower your hips until both knees are at a 90-degree angle. Make sure that your front knee is directly above your ankle. Back up carefully to starting position again and repeat.
- Widen your circle. When cleaning windows, glass or mirrors, make big circular movements to work your arms and shoulders and do it fast for added value. Listening to music helps.
- Reach for the top. Stretch up extra high to those pesky cobwebs in ceiling corners to really feel it in the muscles along your sides.
- Save your back when bending down to clear out cupboards. Bend your knees instead and you are halfway to a squat – a low impact exercise, that if done regularly can help tone thighs and buttocks and add core strength.
- Do the twist. Clearing out eye-level cabinets? Face forward and twist to reach the cabinet or any other surfaces for that matter and give your waist muscles a workout.
Activities such as washing the car and raking the lawn can also work certain muscles groups and get the blood pumping plus it gets you out into the fresh air.
When it comes to spring-cleaning it also really pays to get the whole family involved. Younger children are normally pleased to be given a task to do. It can help to give them a real sense of purpose, involving them in family life and away from too much screen time.
So what are you waiting for? Don those yellow gloves, put on some uplifting music and get moving. You might just enjoy it.
Caution: If you are unsure of any new exercise regime please consult your GP before commencing