Monday, 8 April 2013

Burning Down the House(work)

In-between working on some more people profiles for this blog, which really is my favourite kind of writing, I decided to not wait until the end of the day to write today's post. What I am doing is in actual fact procrastinating beginning another job. While I am not driven by a rigid day-of-the-week "to do" list like my mom was (perhaps because my mom was), Mondays seem to have become the housework and laundry day.

Painting by my talented daughter. Her expression captures how I feel about housework.
So, as a motivator, and to delay the inevitable, I decided to look up how many calories are burned doing household chores. The results didn't do much to really get me going, because, bottom line, I really don't enjoy doing housework. But I like a clean, tidy house, and I am the one who chose to be the "stay-at-home" partner many, many years ago. Maybe that's why I don the "Running is Cheaper Than Therapy" shirt and sign up for all these running events. I am running away from my responsibilities! Ha ha. Oh, I'm sure there's already a blog out there about that, written by someone with a PhD in psychology. (Actually, though, I do need to do a run today.)

I will write this out, and then perhaps add photos later. (OK I updated at 3:37 p.m. Enjoy.) Artsy photos showing housework chores. Whoa - Museum of Modern Art here I come!

Here's what I found from when it comes to making housework a workout (Note: all catty comments are mine, naturally.)

First, and foremost, "Consult your doctor before doing any vigorous housework if you have health problems."
(I almost felt like leaving the "if" part out...)

Floor Mopping - Is good for strengthening those biceps and shoulders! Apparently one half hour of floor mopping burns 112 calories. And if, say, you are lucky enough to have a reason to get down on your hands and knees to scrub said floor (for example, if your cat took yet another dump on it instead of using the litter box, which - oops! - nobody bothered to clean out the other day, and all cat owners know cats are very tidy creatures who will not use a dirty litter box. Or they're just territorial bitches. I digress.) then you will burn 200 calories.

Yard Work - It's beginning to look more like spring in Simcoe County and soon we'll all be frantically raking, mowing, planting and beautifying our outdoor spaces so that we have something pretty to look at while we breathe in that wonderful fresh air. While we take a few deep cleansing breaths we can also burn a few calories, about 256 per hour, while exercising our arms, legs and back with raking. Mowing the lawn also works the shoulders, arms, core and legs and burns about 160 calories in half an hour. (That's the push mower dear, not the riding mower. Sorry.)

Vacuuming the Carpet - In order to get an even arm workout (so you don't start vacuuming in circles, I guess), livestrong suggests switching from one hand to the other mid-way through the job. To add an ab workout make sure to vacuum with good posture. The whole process burns about 90 calories in half an hour.

Dish Washing - Those without a dishwasher rejoice! Hand washing burns more calories. In half an hour you can burn about 160 calories, whereas loading a dishwasher burns a mere 105. In defence of dishwasher owners, however, I would think  lifting and manoeuvring heavy pots and pans or cups and glasses around for several minutes in said dishwasher in order to find the optimum spot for them to be washed well, should count for something, as should hand washing said pots and pans after dishwasher does a crappy job at washing them in the first place. Must bring the calorie count close to 200.

Another piece of advice from livestrong is to wear an apron and keep the pockets filled with all of your cleaning supplies so you don't need to stop your housework workout to go and get the Pledge or the environmentally friendly cleaning spray you are using, hence reducing the effectiveness of the workout.

Of Special Note: I had to look up "Calories Burned Moving Furniture" because my mom, bless her soul, not only kept our house neat as a pin when I was growing up, but always liked to try different furniture arrangements and she often would move heavy pieces of furniture all by herself. She was always very slim, and now I know part of the reason: She burned about 300 calories per hour moving furniture.

My mom, pictured in 1960, whose tiny frame belied her strength. She could move a whole dining room hutch from upstairs to downstairs without help. Talk about a calorie burn!
(She probably moved the Christmas tree to a better location after this pic was taken.)

And finally, here are some estimates, from the livestrong article, about calories burned according to weight:

"Heavy cleaning burns 135 calories in half an hour if you weigh 125 pounds. If you weigh 155 pounds you burn 167 and if you weigh 185 you burn 200, according to the Harvard Medical School."

According to "Caloriecounter.About.Com" heavy/major cleaning includes car washing, window washing and garage cleaning "with vigorous effort." They suggest a 150lb person will burn 204 calories per hour doing any of those kinds of activities. In an accompanying chart, they offer the kinds of foods with the equivalent calories. Naturally, the one that caught my eye was wine. So, note to self (and wine lovers everywhere), to burn off 2.6 glasses (a glass = 3.5 fl.oz) of wine you just need to vigorously clean something for an hour. I'll remember that next time I am vigorously scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees: "Out damned spot! Out! My wine is awaiting!. Then again, running for an hour burns, what, about 500 - 600 or more calories depending on your weight. How many glasses of wine is that...(Getting off-topic now. Gotta go clean the kitchen.)

I actually own some housekeeping books. The one in the middle, Life's Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets by Lisa Quinn is as inspiring as it is hilarious. (Copyright 2010, Lisa Quinn)
(And yes, in retrospect, my mom would have wholeheartedly agreed with Ms Quinn.)

(Don't worry Coach Ann, I would never replace housework with your dynamic circuit conditioning class. Although you could always get us to scrub the gym floor while we are planking sideways across it...)

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