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How can you get a workout at home?

Getting a workout at home isn’t really revolutionary; it’s actually quite traditional.  Traditionally, household tasks would have required much more strength, endurance, and time.  Instead of doing things the easy way, we can intentionally spend more time and effort on household tasks (it’s better than paying for a gym!).  Rather than thinking of chores as demanding and arduous, we need to embrace the strenuous nature of each activity and be thankful that we have homes to clean and families for which to care.

Home Activities that Burn Calories

Note: The ‘calories per hour’ are estimates because each person burns a different amount of calories according to their height, weight, age, and metabolism.

Washing Dishes by Hand (and drying them) – Loading a dishwasher burns very few calories and builds very little strength.  Washing dishes by hand builds strength in the arms and the back.  Traditional women would have washed all of their dishes by hand and scrubbed their cash iron skillets clean.  Check out those biceps!

Washing dishes and gathering dishes – 150 calories per hour


Cooking (and food preparation) – Even cooking food, the stuff with the calories in it, burns calories.  At Boholistic Mom, we’ve learned to embrace cooking and food preparation rather than being too concerned with the calorie count.  We’re convinced that cooking real food (not processed) keeps our bodies and families healthy and can even help our metabolisms increase naturally.  So cooking is a high priority as a workout, as a lifestyle choice, and to keep our families healthy and happy.

Cooking (and food preparation) – 150 calories per hour

Hanging Clothes on the Line – Our modern conveniences called the washer and the dryer are fantastic.  No sane modern woman would give up her washer, but there are benefits to hanging your wash to dry.  Not only is it a beneficial workout, but the frequent exposure to sunlight is great for your body.  Soak in the vitamin D, let your clothes be cleansed by the sun, and enjoy your natural workout.

Hanging clothes on the line – 141 calories per hour
Folding clothes – 123 calories per hour

Sweeping and Mopping the Floors – Sweeping the floors back and forth, getting the dust and dirt out of all of its hiding places, lifting the heavy mop bucket, raising the mop back and forth from the bucket to the floor, and swishing the heavy water laden mop head back and forth on the floor, these are all activities that burn calories!  Why have we fallen out of love with the things that not only give us a clean home, but actually help us to keep our bodies functioning well?

Sweeping floors and carpets – 202 calories per hour
Mopping the floors – 215 calories per hour

Ironing – While modern Americans tend to shy away from clothes that require ironing, the act of ironing clothes, bed linens, and tablecloths is a very traditional form of exercise.  Is it really needed?  Probably not, but if you are looking for an extra activity to bring the burn (not with the hot part of the iron please!) then consider ironing more of your household items.

Ironing – 141 calories per hour

Scrubbing Arms (not scrubbing bubbles) – Whether it’s scrubbing the tub, the shower, the toilet, the floor, the wall, or some other surface in the house, scrubbing is a super fitness activity.  The act of getting on your hands and knees and giving the floor ‘what for’ not only cleans the surface but works many muscles in your body.

Scrubbing floors on hands and knees – 233 calories per hour

Washing Windows – Did you know that our traditional ancestors were incredibly OC about getting the house clean?  They would regularly wash their windows . . . inside and out.  Cobwebs were not left alone and smudges were untidy for company.  Think clean windows and strong arms!

Washing windows – 184 calories per hour

Building a Fire – Traditionally, all winter long ladies would be building fires.  In a small house, she would tend one fire that would also be used for cooking.  In a large home, she  might need to be keeping her kitchen fire tended as well as a main living room fire going.  Many modern mamas do not use fireplaces as their main source of heat, but if you do or you can, consider that this is one way to build your fitness and burn calories traditionally.

Building a fire – 153 calories per hour

Butchering Animals – While most ladies these days do not own a farm, the amount of calories burned by butchering animals warrants mention in regards to traditional workouts for traditional women.  Ladies on the farm might have raised chickens, pigs, ducks, and even cows and shared the responsibility for butchering their own animals.

“I am woman, hear me roar!” – Helen Reddy

Butchering animals – 368 calories per hour

Does It Work?

If your goal is to promote fitness and wellness for your body, then yes, traditional home fitness works.  If your goal is to lose weight, then you will also need to also eat a traditional diet since weight loss is 80% diet and 20% fitness.  Check out our Boholistic Post Food or Foe to better understand what foods to eat and what “foods” don’t belong in our bodies.  You can also check out our Real Food, Real People page to hear more about what others are doing to change their  lives and their diet to be more holistic.


Brooke Shambley

THE Boholistic Mom

Side Note: Workouts Shouldn’t Feel Like Breakouts

The goal of fitness is to promote physical health.  However, many women don’t workout for fitness.  Many ladies with small children (or even teenagers) may find that they look forward to working out outside of the home as an escape.  As a mother, free time outside of the home should be used for relaxation and peaceful contemplation, not as an escape from family life.  If you are using workouts to avoid an emotional issue, you may never solve it unless you face it head on. Running and exercise can be a great release, but it doesn’t solve the problem behind the emotion.

If you find that you are exercising to escape, try to plan out intentional outings for yourself where you can just spend time alone.  You don’t need an excuse to treat yourself to time alone!

Extra Resources

Web MD – Fit-O-Meter

Calorie Lab – Calories Burned for Home Activities

Calorie Count –  Calories Burned with Home Activities

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