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How Many Calories Does Vacuuming Burn?

Vacuuming your house isn't just about cleanliness—it's a calorie-burning activity too! On average, a person can burn approximately 170-300 calories per hour, depending on intensity and body weight. It's a workout that tones your arms and core while you tidy up. Intrigued? Discover how household chores can contribute to your fitness goals in our comprehensive guide. Ready to learn more?
Editorial Team
Editorial Team

Want to raise your metabolism while you knock a few chores off your list? Cleaning the house may be a good start, but just how many calories does vacuuming burn? We'll explore the answer, and hopefully give you even more reasons to tidy up.

How Can Vacuuming Burn Calories?

Your body burns calories doing many things you might not traditionally regard as exercise. For instance, you're burning calories while reading this, and you even expend energy (though not much) while you sit and watch TV.

Vacuuming can also be considered light exercise because it’s an activity that requires physical effort. Not only do you have to push the vacuum cleaner around, carry it up and down stairs, and maneuver around objects, but you've also got to move your own body, which burns energy.

Also, remember that vacuuming isn't just about sucking up dirt and dust – at least when you do a good job. If you're thorough, you might have to move furniture, reposition carpets, and bend down to pick up the gross bits of gunk the vacuum cleaner always seems to miss.

The one exception to this rule is robot vacuum cleaners. Although you may indeed burn a fraction of a calorie by tapping the screen on your smartphone or expending some energy planning a good route for your Roomba (thinking does burn calories) these activities aren't what we're talking about here.

So Just How Many Calories Does Vacuuming Burn?

The exact number of calories burned while vacuuming depends on your weight, age, and the intensity of your vacuuming. In general, vacuuming for 30 minutes can burn approximately 124 calories for a person who weighs 150 pounds. That number goes up if you weigh more and down if you weigh less. 

Different Vacuuming Workouts for Different Folks

Another critical factor lies in how much effort you put into your housework and the length of time you’re doing it. Vacuuming more vigorously or for long periods can increase the number of calories you burn while vacuuming. In other words, you'll burn more calories if you have a bigger home, decide to do lunges and toe lifts while you clean, or dance and sing to your favorite tunes to make the work a bit more fun.

Consider that not all areas in your home take the same amount of vacuuming exertion. For instance, if you're vacuuming a thick rug, you might have to push the vacuum slightly harder than you would if you were only doing tile or hardwood floors. Similarly, if you've got a heavy old clunker of a vacuum or a shop-style unit, you'll probably expend more effort.

Finally, there's the issue of body size. While it might seem like a smaller person would exert more effort than a larger person would to push the same vacuum, body weight and muscle mass are key factors in determining how many calories each person burns per hour. That's why larger people often have higher metabolisms and can burn more calories doing what appears to be the same activity, although the same doesn't apply to people who struggle with obesity – the key appears to be muscle mass.

What kind of workout can I get from vacuuming?

One interesting aspect of vacuuming is that it's not just about one muscle group. Instead, research has found that it not only works your legs but also your upper body and core.

Why is this the case? Well for starters, pushing the vacuum requires you to use your arm muscles, and the effect appears to be more intense if you're the kind of champion house cleaner who tends to lift the vacuum instead of merely pushing and pulling it.

With that said, vacuuming may not be the ideal replacement for your current total-body workout of choice – consider it a supplement. Although enthusiastic cleaning is fun, you need to be careful to maintain good form and avoid overreaching, twisting your body improperly, or straining your dominant arm and hand – as with all workouts, balance is crucial. For example, if you're pregnant, you may want to consult with a doctor or pregnancy nutritionist about alternate ways to stay fit.

Can other chores burn calories?

Hate vacuuming? Don't worry, because it's not the only option for staying active as you're doing something else constructive.

Yardwork is a prime example: According to Harvard Health, a 155-pound person will burn about 144 calories per hour by raking the lawn, 162 calories per hour while gardening, or 216 calories per hour shoveling snow by hand.

Even low-intensity household activities can burn calories. For instance, you might not know that a 155-pound person will burn about 70 calories hourly by cooking – so go ahead and eat a few extra bites, provided that you choose something nutritious. Move some furniture or carry boxes, and that jumps up to over 200 calories burned every hour.

Final Thoughts

Staying in motion is a key component of feeling healthy at any size, no matter whether you get your daily activity with an hour of cleaning or a dedicated workout. It's all about establishing habits that keep your body active and make it easier to motivate yourself.

Even if you're not quite where you'd like to be in your fitness journey, don't discount the value of washing dishes, moving furniture, or vacuuming. Starting off small is still a positive start – and it's often easier than making bigger gestures. Why not talk to a certified nutritionist about easy ways to make your lifestyle more active?

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Editorial Team
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