Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A shiny house = calories burned, baby!

I wonder if housecleaning can legitimately be called exercise.  Not too long ago, I read Louisa May Alcott's book Little Women, and I remember a passage in there where the girls' mother advises her oldest daughter (who has recently started her own household and had children) to have someone watch the kids so she can clean house and get some exercise.  Now, she didn't mean to clean the house and then go for a walk or hit the gym or even run.  No, she meant that cleaning the house would give her some exercise.

Generally speaking, I am not a big calorie counter, but the reason I wonder about the housework/exercise connection is that it seems it may be the only exercise I get this week.  You see, after Saturday's half marathon, I seem to have taken a bit of a vacation from running.  Sunday, to be sure, I did not do anything.  That's not all bad since it seems when I do exercise the day after a race I hurt myself.  And, indeed, my knee did bother me Sunday.  So, no exercise there. I did go to my yoga class on Monday, and that felt really good.  And, while I kind of, sort of did already feel like running a bit, I opted to give myself another day of rest - just in case, you know.  In fact, I didn't even consider going to my BOSU class on the assumption that all that jumping around would probably not be a good thing.

Yesterday, I meant to start up my leg exercises again (finally), but after running a bunch of errands and cleaning the house a bit, I opted not to.  And, well, for today - it's still early, but I have already skipped my core class.  Even after staying up way too late reading last night, I still intended to go.  However, then a 2:30 a.m. wake-up call from the little dude had me turning off my alarm.  In a way, that is too bad for me, because I ended up waking up at 5:25 anyway.  I could have gotten up to my alarm (set 25 minutes earlier) and made it to my 5:30 class after all.  Doh!

Finally, today's group run is already looking a bit dubious as it is 39 degrees and raining outside.  I might still consider it, though, as I really need to do something.  (And, I really want an excuse for a dark chocolate mocha afterwards.)

So, how many calories might I have burned doing housework yesterday?  (She asks hopefully.)  Well, let's see, ...  I did laundry, made the beds, cooked, washed dishes, and just generally picked up around the house.  So, let's look at the calorie counts. According to WikiAnswers, for every half hour spent doing laundry, I could burn 73 calories.  Now, our washing machine is in the basement, so I'll bump that up to 100 calories on account of the stairs.  A half hour spent making the bed is worth 68 calories.  Since it took all of 3 minutes to make the beds, I'll call that a wash and say zero calories burned.  Cooking for a half hour is worth 85 calories (and no taste testing, too, so I'll take the whole 85 calories burned there, thank you very much).  Washing the dishes is worth 78 calories.  According to Lisa Daniel's Healthy Blog (which I have never actually read but rather just turned up in a Google search on the topic),  you can burn about 175 calories an hour doing general housework/picking up. Since I only did that for about a half hour, I'll estimate I burned about 87 calories.  

Running errands is, of course, a bit of a misnomer, since I didn't run at all, but rather drove everywhere.  I'll have to call that zero calories burned there, although I am sure it wasn't a total waste with all the walking from car to door, etc. 

So, putting that altogether, I guess I burned about 350 calories yesterday.  That's equivalent to a 3.5-mile run!  So, if that is the case, tell me, why do I run again?  I mean part of the excuse I use for my house being a pit is that I use my time to exercise instead.  Here I could just be combining the two and having the best of both worlds.  I could have a clean house and get my exercise, too.  Now, only to find out if there is any such thing as a vacuumer's high?


  1. Vacuuming will get you high if you leave it on in a closed closest! You have to be in the closet also.

  2. Hmm, I'll keep that in mind. ;) I knew vacuuming gave off a buzz, but I thought it was just due to the noise.