Can household chores deliver the same results as exercise?

household chores replace exercise

What can we learn from our Grandmothers – those fit, 1950’s housewives who never, ever stepped a foot in the local gym?

And yet, they always looked amazing and their homes were impeccable?

We all feel the pressure to be a little bit fitter and a bit more in shape. But perhaps you don’t need to feel THAT guilty about never going to the gym or not being able to run 5 km.

Burning the kilojoules

Daily chores may help you get in shape quickly. It keeps you active and add to your daily kilojoule (kJ) burn (4.2 kJ = 1 calorie). Some household chores can burn major kilojoules – in certain instances even more than a 5 km run!

The kilojoules that you will burn during a 5 km run will depend on your pace, your body size and your gender. A 68 kg person will burn approximately 960 kJ when running a 10-minute per 1.6 km pace. If the same person walks 5 km, he/she will burn approximately 780 kJ.

Common household chores and how many kilojoules they burn.

• Mopping and sweeping floors can burn 660 – 710 kJ an hour
• Cleaning surfaces can burn up to 570 kJ an hour
• Vacuuming burns 710 kJ an hour
• Carrying the shopping up the stairs can burn up to 1 850 kJ an hour
• Ironing burns up to 340 kJ an hour
• Making the bed burns 290 kJ an hour
• Dusting for an hour burns 700 kJ
• Washing the car burns 1 320 kJ an hour
• Cleaning windows for an hour burns 590 – 1 260 kJ an hour
• Moving house or rearranging furniture can burn 1 680 kJ an hour
• Light gardening burns 1 050 – 1 370 kJ an hour

Household chores cannot replace exercise

Although you can boost your fitness just by keeping your home clean and tidy, you cannot ultimately replace exercise with your daily household chores.

Exercising is usually structured and follows certain scientific principles in order to achieve results, ranging from weight loss to toning or getting rid of lifestyle diseases.

Household chores vs exercise

One of the important principles of exercise is progressive overload. This means you follow the same exercise routine for a few weeks and then, after some time, you increase the sets, repetitions or the intensity of the exercise. Consequently, you will gradually progress or “overload” to get stronger with each passing month or week.

Household chores can unfortunately not deliver the same results.


By Elmarie Jensen


The Content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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