Cleaning and gardening better than workout says new survey

Tackling cleaning and gardening has more benefits than going to the gym: you'll save money, boost your mental health and get a free workout

Deep cleaning press image from Airtasker

More than ever before, our health and fitness is a priority. Regular gym classes, park runs and yoga are built into our weekly routines. And because of our jam-packed schedules, who has time for the mundane task that is housework? 

But what if we told you that the latest fitness craze will also leave your home looking spick and span and positively gleaming in organisation? And what if we also told you that it’s also (more or less) free? Annnnd that it's good for your mental health, too?

If you think about it, scrubbing the bath, cleaning the windows and raking leaves are pretty physically hefty jobs. Just because you’re not in a gym monitoring your heart rate and aiming for a PB, it doesn’t necessarily mean the work out is less effective. 

Don't believe us? Or looking for an excuse to ditch that barely used gym membership? A study by has revealed exactly how many calories we burn by doing housework, and we’re finding this rather pleasing:

1. Scrubbing the bath = 250 jumping jacks

Putting in some elbow grease and removing soap scum from your tub for 15 minutes can burn up to 50 calories, which is the same as 250 jumping jacks. This chore is great for toning arms and shoulder muscles.     

2. Doing laundry = 70 sit ups

Including loading and unloading the washing machine, hanging up clothes and putting them away, doing the laundry can burn around 70 calories in an hour, which is the same as doing 70 sit ups. Now that’s music to our ears.  

3. Wiping windows = 15 minute run

If your windows have seen better days, spend an hour giving them a good clean and burn 136 calories while you’re at it. That’s the same as jogging for 15 minutes.

4. Washing up = 30 minute swim

Scrubbing away at the dishes can burn an impressive 180 calories over a week if you spend 15 minutes doing it every day. This equates to swimming for just under 30 minutes.  

5. Vacuuming = 15 minutes kick boxing

Giving your carpets a good clean can burn 90 calories in half an hour, which is the same as 15 minutes of kick boxing. Depending on size of your house, vacuuming can get you nearer to the daily recommended 10,000 steps.

6. Dusting = 2 minutes of planking

Something as easy as doing the dusting can burn 25 calories in 15 minutes, the same as two minutes of planking!

7. Ironing = a Zumba class 

If you spend three hours over a week getting the creases out of your clothes you can burn 264 calories, the same as a Zumba class. Standing still for long periods of time burns calories and works your core muscles too. Make sure to press down evenly and switch arms so both get an even work out.  

8. Making beds = a mile long walk 

Changing the linen of a family of four’s beds can burn 52 calories in 30 minutes, the same as a mile walk.  

9. Mopping and sweeping = 15 minutes on a treadmill

Cleaning the floors for 30 minutes can burn 96 calories, which is equivalent to 15 minutes on the treadmill.  

Deep cleaning press image from Airtasker

How amazing that all these mini workouts are ready and waiting right under our noses. As Spring really is approaching, the thought of getting out in the sunshine is, of course, a bit more appealing than vacuuming the house. But that’s okay, because you can head to your new outside ‘gym’, otherwise known as the garden. has revealed how many calories different garden chores can burn, and it’s making us keener than ever to get green fingered:

1. Raking leaves = 60 calories per 15 minutes

Putting the leaves in a compost pile and swapping hands every 10 minutes for an even workout will burn 60 calories per 15 minutes. Great for toning arms, refreshing the garden and creating free and healthy mulch.

2. Digging and composting = 83 calories per 15 minutes

Building up muscle and being seriously beneficial to your garden’s soil, digging and composting can burn 83 calories per 15 minutes.  

3. Lawn maintenance = 93 calories per 15 minutes

The repetitive movement of mowing the lawn leads naturally to a calmer state of mind and focusses attention, which promotes mental wellbeing. Mow the lawn for 15 minutes and you’ll burn 93 calories.

4. Weeding = 73 calories per 15 minutes

Dealing with weeds is a full body work out– grabbing and pulling will improve grip and tone arms, whilst squatting for a long period of time defines leg muscles. In 15 minutes you can burn 73 calories.

5. Harvesting produce = 42 calories per 15 minutes

This can be hefty work, putting pressure on the muscles in your back and arms, so remember to squat when bending down for maximum results. 15 minutes of harvesting burns 42 calories.

6. Trimming hedges = 73 calories per 15 minutes

Using a manual cutter to trim bushes stimulates muscles in the shoulders, while squatting down to collect the waste works out the leg muscles. Spending 15 minutes making your garden look neater can burn 73 calories.

That's a total of 424 calories in an hour and half's gardening, in case you were wondering. And , if weeding for an hour burns nearly as many calories as running for 30 minutes, and one of them leads to a beautifully neat garden, we know which one we’d choose! Killing two birds with one stone is just what we need in our chaotic lives. So when it comes to your fitness, the gym isn’t the only place where you can keep healthy and tone up.  

And what's more, with so many of us hiring cleaners and gardeners, finding a new love for these tasks will not only help to keep us fit, but will help us save money too. It's a win win win!

Get prepped for your housework mission with a little help from us.

Amelia Smith
Content Editor

After joining Real Homes as content producer in 2016, Amelia has taken on several different roles and is now content editor. She specializes in style and decorating features and loves nothing more than finding the most beautiful new furniture, fabrics and accessories and sharing them with our readers. As a newbie London renter, Amelia’s loving exploring the big city and mooching around vintage markets to kit out her new home.