Ten Ways to Make Housework Your Workout

I don’t know about you guys but I grew up with some healthy people around me.  We did not have gyms but doing the chores was enough workout.  Think grinding mealies, getting wood from the bushes, getting water from a dam, applying cow dung on the floor (ukusinda), milking cows etc.  People worked, they worked the fields planting and harvesting fresh produce.  Our generation is so hooked up on devices as a result we are leading sedentary lives.  Hours of chatting on Whatsapp makes one a certified armchair activist.  Another problem is once you start having a car.  The walking or rather running to catch buses, trains and taxis stops.

Not all of us have hours to invest in a gym or participate in intense sporting activities. But most of us have normal day-to-day activities that, with a little imagination, can be part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

New research indicates that normal daily activities count towards being a part of a regular exercise regimen. These activities contribute to weight-management and burning off kilojoules, and there is even an official term for it: non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or NEAT).

Transform your mundane chores and tasks into a part of your exercise routine by a little creative manoeuvring, here are some tips from Weigh-Less:

1. Mopping, dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing are all vigorous cardio exercises that are good for burning up to 150 calories an hour. Polish that floor and tone your body by pausing for a 35 second floor plank in between getting those tiles sparkling.

2. Tighten your tummy and core by squeezing in your stomach and oblique muscles as you sweep. Keep your back straight, bring the broom bristles as far away as possible and pull in. Do this for 5 minutes in each room up to 3 times per day.

3. Pick items up off the floor using forward lunges.

4. Squeeze in some squats in between grabbing fresh laundry from the basket and putting it up on the line.

5. Fold your laundry while balancing on a stability ball or while doing “wall sits”: sit for 30 seconds with your back pressed up against the wall, making sure that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.

6. Grow your garden and shrink your bum while pulling weeds and doing squat-steps along your flower beds and lawn.

7. Raking or digging is a good form of weight training. You are pulling against resistance or lifting which leads to burning up to 200 calories in 30 minutes.

8. Give your car a good wash and your legs and arms a great work out. Do a few sets of calf raises to clean the roof, coupled with squats to clean the tyres. Using a cloth or sponge, wash the rest of the car using circular motions and alternating arms. You can save money on having it washed and burn up to 135 calories in 30 minutes.

9. Forget precut produce and that blender, chop your ingredients by hand and whisk up those egg whites the old school way. Use bags of flour and sugar or tins of food as kitchen dumbbells.

10. Opt to for the basket when grocery shopping and park further away from the entrance to the store. You will limit the unnecessary purchases and tone your arms at the same time. Avoid the trolley and carry your shopping bags to the car, ensuring the bags are evenly-weighted or swap the bags around halfway.

To get the full benefit of your daily household workout routine, ensure that you do some stretching beforehand and be mindful of your posture. Often people are prone to slouching or bending over incorrectly when participating in cleaning or gardening activities. This leads to back strain and injury. Strengthen your core and your back by ensuring it is straight, especially when lifting or involved in sweeping-like movements. Avoid bending, especially from the waist-down, and opt to squat instead. Best for your back and your bum.


Are you currently doing any of these activities?

About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

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