Can you really lose weight just by doing household chores?

You can burn calories by washing up, cleaning, mopping and cooking dinner, as it turns out chores are great for weight loss

Vacuum household chores
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might think you don't get enough exercise, but a busy person actually burns calories all day long. Walking to the coffee shop at lunch? An exercise break to keep the circulation going in your legs. Carrying the shopping? Resistance training. Vacuuming? Cardio. Although having one of our best elliptical machines in the living room doesn't hurt, it's not the only way to get exercise at home. 

It's no replacement for your usual exercise routine, but it's great to know that household chores burn lots of calories. A report by Wren Kitchens polled 1,000 participants to find just how long we spend on our household chores, on average. 

They then extrapolated to find out how many calories we burn while doing those chores each month.

On average, the average chore-doing person burns around 20,000 calories a month while doing everyday household tasks, which Wren says is the equivalent of 16,816 burpees. We spend an average of 1120 minutes cleaning each month, burning 3976 calories and taking the top spot on the household chores calorie list.

Cooking, or food prep, is next on the list. With the heat from the oven or stovetop combined with chopping, stirring and washing, cooking burns 2856 calories during 301 minutes spent on it every month. A month of regular mopping uses 2724 calories, while putting away clothes takes 185 minutes every month and burns 1708 calories.

Washing up

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of course, calories burnt vary depending on a person’s weight, and the study was done on the basis of the average respondent being 156 pounds. So, if you weigh more, you’ll burn more calories, but if you weigh less, you’ll burn less. This is good news for those who are overweight looking to kick-start their weight loss journey: doing more chores around the house is an easy way to fit more exercise into your day.

This is all part of the philosophy of not just doing more structured exercise, but taking time to move more in everyday life. Taking the stairs instead of the lift, for example, or choosing to cycle to work instead of taking the bus. Working from home? Do 10 push-ups and 10 squats on the hour, every hour, or make sure you go for a walk at lunch. These everyday lifestyle choices add up to counteract a sedentary lifestyle. 

As you might have gathered from the examples above, if you're looking for more accessible ways to burn calories, walking to lose weight is a great place to start. It's low-intensity, easy to begin and gets you outside into nature, away from the screens. All you need is a solid pair of your best shoes for walking to take advantage of this easy outdoors activity.