Can You Burn Fat While Doing Housework?

Does housework really count as exercise? Get-Fit Guy explores the results of a new study, and gives you 4 easy ways to boost your metabolism and increase fat loss with simple household activities, including cleaning, gardening, and even watching TV!

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #162

Recently, Science Daily published an article with the following disappointing headline:

“Housework Isn't as Healthy as People Think”

In a nutshell, the article says that based on results from a recent study, claiming housework as part of an exercise program may actually be a mistake. The professor who led the study said:

“…we found that housework was inversely related to leanness, which suggests that either people are overestimating the amount of moderate intensity physical activity they do through housework, or are eating too much to compensate for the amount of activity undertaken."

What do you think? Could it be that doing housework might not burn many calories and actually make you fatter? In this episode, you’ll discover whether or not you can actually burn fat while doing housework, plus ways that you could boost your metabolism with simple activities – such as cleaning, gardening, and even watching TV!.

Does Housework Count as Exercise?

OK, OK, I’ll admit: I’ve done some pretty darn easy housework. It can actually be hard to break a sweat while you’re folding laundry and wiping down the kitchen counter. So when articles in popular fitness magazines claim that you can “count” housework as exercise (or gardening, or standing while eating, or cleaning the garage), I take this advice with a grain of salt.

The fact is, the study I was talking about earlier has a shred of truth to it – the average housework isn’t really all that tough and doesn’t get to the necessary intensity to categorize it as “exercise.” Furthermore, if you’ve been led to believe that it actually is exercise, maybe you would be more likely to down an energy bar or two once you’ve finished your daily chores, thereby negating any calories you spent while doing your housework workout.

How to Burn More Calories with Housework

But what if you actually could burn more calories with housework, or even use your daily chores to make a significant dent in your waistline? The truth is that you can! It just takes a few little “hacks” to burn those extra calories.

Here are 4 Quick and Dirty Tips to lose fat while doing your chores:

Tip #1: Make Yourself Weigh More

From weighted vests, to ankle weights, you can actually add anywhere from 10 to 50 pounds to your body weight with simple and relatively inexpensive equipment. When you do this, you automatically force yourself to burn more calories while moving from point A to point B, including climbing stairs, squatting, lunging, walking, and anything else. While going on a hard run in a weighted vest can be quite a chore - and even cause injury if you’re not careful – wearing a weighted vest while doing simple household tasks is an easy fat burning trick.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.