Does housework burn calories? Here are 3 ways to burn calories when you're stuck inside

  • 2 Minutes Read
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Stuck indoors because of the weather and a trip to the gym is not going to happen? You may be wondering - does housework burn calories, and if so, how many calories can I burn with simple chores? This post gives you the top chores and the number of calories you can burn with each.

Does housework burn calories

Does Housework Burn Calories & What Chores Burn the Most?

There are times when the weather is just too unpleasant and you don't want to drive to the gym let alone go outside and exercise or do yard chores. To stay active on those days, there are activities you can do while also getting your indoor chores completed. This saves you both time and money while you burn calories. They make great backup and supplemental calorie burners.

Websites often list activity intensity levels by their Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) level. One MET is the amount of energy or calories you burn at complete rest. Of course, when you log activity in MyNetDiary, the tracker calculates the calories for you.

To learn more about what household chores burn the most calories, see the Compendium of Physical Activities. If you are trying to reach a moderate-intensity level, choose activities between 3 - 5.9 METS and perform them for 30 minutes of net time (that is, actual move time not including breaks). Moving more is beneficial, so even lower MET activities are helpful. Higher MET activities have the benefit of greater calorie burning per minute, but they might be harder to perform for long periods. Be sure to track actual net minutes when you log your exercise. All activities are available for tracking in MyNetDiary.

Here are 3 ways to burn calories when you're stuck inside


Vacuuming is a decent energy burner at 3.3 METS. Based upon a weight of 130 pounds (59 kg), MyNetDiary calculates a burn of 139 calories for one hour of vacuuming. You might think that the calorie burn is not very much but consider that an outdoor walk burns 155 calories per hour. And the bonus is that you have clean floors after you've finished burning those calories.

Cleaning the bathroom

The good news is that bathroom cleaning is a moderate-intensity activity at 3.5 METS. Based upon a weight of 130 pounds (59 kg), logging "scrubbing floors, on hands and knees, scrubbing bathroom, bathtub, moderate effort"), burns 155 calories in one hour. That might feel like a bit of a cheat given the nature of the chore, but consider that it burns the same amount of calories as a one-hour outdoor walk. When you're done, the bathrooms are clean and you have saved a boatload of money by not hiring someone to do it for you.

Moving furniture, household items, carrying boxes

Carrying loads of boxes or household items is a very good calorie burner at 5.8 METS. If a 130 pound (59 kg) person logs 30 minutes of this activity, MyNetDiary shows a burn of 297 calories. Wow! This is a great motivator to work on finishing the reorganization of your home office or keeping difficult rooms organized.

When you carry those boxes or loads up and down the stairs, then you burn even more calories since the MET level increases when stairs are involved (9 METS for carrying loads up and down the stairs). Reorganizing a room and getting rid of unwanted items by carrying each load to the garage or basement will help you rack up the calories. Word of advice - use good lifting and carrying techniques so you don't injure yourself.

There are many other common household chores that burn a fair number of calories: window washing (3.5 METS), mopping floors (3.5 METS), and painting walls or furniture (3.3 METS).

Tip: the more you can use stairs and/or increase your weight load, the more calories you will burn for any activity.

Rethinking regular chores as opportunities for supporting your health while saving money, you may find that they are less burdensome to perform. And afterward, you feel good - your home is cleaner, less cluttered, and looks nicer.

Content was reviewed and updated by Brenda Braslow on March 10, 2022.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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