Many of us want to know how to burn extra calories. We’ve all probably Googled ‘how to burn calories at home’ or ‘how many calories does watching TV burn?’. The answer is about 70 calories before you look it up!. Most people are preoccupied with calculating calories burned during exercise, but they neglect to consider the increased energy expenditure as a result of normal daily activities. You may be surprised to know what percentage of energy consumption is associated with burning calories without exercise. So, if that’s the case, how many calories does cleaning burn? What about calories burned mowing the lawn? This article investigates common questions such as:
- What is non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)?
- How many calories can you burn cleaning?
- Does cleaning the house count as exercise?
- Does cleaning help lose weight?
Read on to find out the answer to all of the above along with the best way to burn calories at home!
What is NEAT?
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis identifies energy used by the body during certain activities other than sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. Activities accounted for under NEAT are vast and include the likes of daily steps count, house cleaning activities, gardening, cooking and even agricultural activities. Essentially, most activities that don’t involve structured exercise can be considered NEAT. The increased metabolic rate arising from a culmination of all of these activities results in the daily NEAT of an individual. As such, activities such as house cleaning are categorised as NEAT as opposed to exercise.
NEAT accounts for the second highest metabolic impact on the body after resting metabolic rate, which is attributed to over 50% of total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). The percentage of energy consumed by NEAT differs amongst individuals and can range anywhere from 15% for more sedentary people to 50% for very active people. For instance, a person who does a day of shopping is likely to achieve a higher NEAT than on a day when they spend it relaxing in a spa. So if you feel more tired on a day when you’ve been busy cleaning/mowing the lawn/gardening, then you now understand why!
If you are engaging in a hectic day of activities, it’s always important to fuel your body with the adequate amounts of:
- Carbohydrates: are you fuelling your body properly? The ultimate guide to carbohydrates
- Protein: good pre-workout foods: protein (don’t let the title mislead you, protein is essential in any healthy diet)
- Fat: is fat really bad for you?
- Water: importance of hydration: how much water should I drink?
How many calories does cleaning burn?
A precise number cannot be assigned to specify exactly how many calories are burned cleaning. This is because energy expenditure is based on variable factors including gender, height, weight, activity type, intensity of activity and duration. Fortunately, estimate values can be calculated based on some basic facts including weight, type of activity and the length of time you spend completing the task.
Take, for instance, a 150lb person who engages in normal daily house cleaning activities; they could have the following calories burned while cleaning:
- Ironing x 20 minutes = 50 calories
- Making beds x 20 minutes = 46 calories
- Mopping x 20 minutes = 42 calories
- Sweeping x 10 minutes = 37 calories
- Vacuuming x 10 minutes = 37 calories
- Washing dishes x 10 minutes = 26 calories
So if this person spends 1 hour and 30 minutes cleaning using the above activities at those durations defined, they could expect to burn approximately 238 calories.
Perhaps this individual decides to venture outside and engages in some outdoor activities:
- Mowing the lawn x 30 minutes = 196 calories
- Washing the car x 30 minutes = 150 calories
- Gardening x 30 minutes = 143 calories
These activities achieve a greater exertion on the body and so we observe a greater calorie consumption to the first scenario: 489 calories for 1 hour and 30 minutes of work.
To put the above activities into perspective in terms of how much energy they expend in comparison to regular exercise, a 150lb person could on average expect to have the following calories burned during exercise:
- Cycling (moderate) x 30 minutes = 286 calories
- Golf x 30 minutes = 161 calories
- Bodyweight exercises x 30 minutes = 126 calories
- Walking (moderate) x 30 minutes = 118 calories
- Yoga x 30 minutes = 86 calories
So if this person engaged in 30 minutes of walking, cycling and yoga, they could anticipate an energy consumption of approximately 490 calories, which is equivalent to the work completed outdoors in the second scenario above!
Does cleaning help lose weight?
Losing weight is based on the following: calories consumed must be less than calories expended. Cleaning (and all the other activities listed above) can lead to increased calories burned. But don’t expect weight to start dropping off you simply because you increased your NEAT by doing a bit more sweeping!
1 pound of fat = 3500 calories
Ignoring other factors such as water weight, if you want to lose 1 pound of fat, you need to achieve a calorie deficit of 3500 calories. So in short, yes calories burned by house cleaning can contribute to weight loss. However, it will take a bit of time, and you will also need to ensure a calorie deficit is achieved and maintained. Once you adopt a proper mindset towards weight loss, learn some patience and know that it will take time, and avoid quick ways to lose weight, you’re bound for greater success.
- NEAT activities can aid increased energy expenditure
- The average person can achieve anywhere from 100-300 calories burned from cleaning
- Cleaning the house is considered a NEAT activity as opposed to exercise
- A good tactic is to adopt a balance between regular exercise and NEAT activities
- Some activities consume higher energy, e.g. washing the car, mowing the lawn
Do you track NEAT activities such as daily steps? Will knowing this information about cleaning motivate you to clean more often? What activities around the house do you find labour-intensive? Post your comments and queries below!
Frey, M., 2020. Use A Housecleaning Workout To Burn More Calories Doing Chores. [online] Verywell Fit. Available at: https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-burn-more-calories-cleaning-house-3495596 [Accessed 19 April 2020].
Jackson, A., 2020. How Many Calories Does Housecleaning Burn? | Livestrong.Com. [online] LIVESTRONG.COM. Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/314390-how-many-calories-does-housecleaning-burn/ [Accessed 19 April 2020].
Levine, J., 2002. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 16(4), pp.679-702.
Sharecare. 2020. How Many Calories Can I Burn Doing Housework? | Calories. [online] Available at: https://www.sharecare.com/health/calories/how-calories-burn-doing-housework [Accessed 19 April 2020]