Cleaning the house does not count as exercise… but it’s still good for you!

Although cleaning the house doesn’t fit the definition of exercise it can still help you maintain your physical capacity, especially as you get older as the demands of vacuuming and other types of household chores do require the use of larger muscle groups of sustained durations. 

We are going to define exercise and it’s the difference with physical activity in this article. Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

    The Relationship Between House Cleaning and Exercise

    First, let’s try to understand the connection between cleaning our homes and exercise. Exercise is defined as any physical activity that improves or maintains our physical fitness, health, and overall well-being that is planned (1). By this definition, it seems that house cleaning could potentially qualify as a form of exercise. However, this really depends on the definition of exercise that is used. Once again, exercise is generally defined as physical activity for the sole purpose of improving and maintaining fitness levels. 

    Calories Burned During House Cleaning

    man mopping large home

    You might be wondering how many calories you can burn during a cleaning session. Well, the answer depends on

    various factors like your weight, the intensity of the cleaning activity, and the duration of the task. For example, a 150-pound person can burn around 102 calories per 30 minutes of light cleaning or 204 calories per 30 minutes of more intense cleaning activities (2). So, the more effort you put into cleaning, the more calories you’ll burn!

    The Many Benefits of House Cleaning as Exercise

    woman spraying down counter while cleaning home

    As we discussed before, house cleaning doesn’t quite fit the “exercise” definition, but, you can burn calories, and you can have a secondary effect of improving muscle strength and cardiovascular health if you do it with high enough intensity. 

    House cleaning as exercise isn’t just about burning calories. There are several other benefits that come along with it! Here are some of them:

    A. Improved Cardiovascular Health

    Cleaning activities like sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming can increase your heart rate, which in turn boosts your cardiovascular health (3). A healthy cardiovascular system is essential for maintaining overall well-being and reducing the risk of heart disease.

    B. Enhanced Muscle Strength and Flexibility

    Did you know that cleaning tasks can help you build muscle strength and improve flexibility? For instance, scrubbing floors, lifting furniture, and stretching to reach high shelves can engage various muscle groups in your body (4). This can help you tone your muscles and maintain flexibility, which is essential for overall physical fitness. And I want to make a note here that you need to be fairly deconditioned for this type of housework to be considered exercise. It’s likely sufficient to keep you at average levels, however it’s not going to put you at optimum performance. 

    C. Reduced Stress Levels

    Cleaning your house can also be an excellent stress reliever! Engaging in physical activities like cleaning can help release endorphins, the feel-good hormones that elevate your mood and reduce stress (5). Plus, a clean and organized home can create a more peaceful and relaxing environment, which can further lower stress levels.

    D. Better Sleep

    Research has shown that people who engage in regular physical activities, including house cleaning, tend to have better sleep quality and duration (6). A good night’s sleep is crucial for maintaining optimal health and well-being.

    The Importance of Variety and Intensity

    While house cleaning does offer several benefits as a form of exercise, it’s essential to incorporate a variety of physical activities into your routine for optimal results. Activities like walking, jogging, swimming, or strength training can complement your cleaning sessions and help you achieve a well-rounded fitness regimen (7). It’s also important to note that the intensity of your cleaning tasks plays a crucial role in determining its effectiveness as exercise. The more effort you put into cleaning, the more benefits you’ll reap!

    Tips for Maximizing the Exercise Benefits of House Cleaning

    To make the most of your house cleaning sessions as exercise, here are some tips you can follow:

    A. Turn up the music: Listening to your favorite tunes while cleaning can make the tasks more enjoyable and motivate you to move faster, which can increase the intensity of the activity (8).

    B. Set a timer: Challenge yourself by setting a timer for each cleaning task, and try to complete it within the given time frame. This can help you increase the intensity of your cleaning and make it more exercise-like.

    C. Use proper techniques: To maximize the benefits of cleaning as exercise, ensure you’re using proper techniques. For example, engage each muscle group in your legs and back, when lifting heavy objects. This can help you engage the right muscle groups and prevent injuries (9).

    D. Incorporate stretching: Take short breaks to stretch your muscles while cleaning. This can help improve your flexibility and prevent muscle soreness (10).

    E. Add extra movements: To increase the intensity of your cleaning tasks, you can add extra movements like squats, lunges, or calf raises while performing various activities. This can help you engage more muscle groups and make your cleaning sessions more effective as exercise.


    So, there you have it, folks! Cleaning the house does count as exercise, as long as you put enough effort into it and maintain a certain level of intensity. Plus, it offers several health benefits like improved cardiovascular health, enhanced muscle strength, reduced stress, and better sleep. However, it’s important to incorporate a variety of physical activities into your routine to achieve well-rounded fitness. So, the next time you’re scrubbing your floors or vacuuming your carpets, remember that you’re not just making your home spick and span – you’re also working on your physical fitness!


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