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Do House Chores Burn Calories?

woman and child doing laundry

Your body burns calories even when you are completely at rest. The more you move, the more calories you burn. Likewise, the more vigorously you move, the more calories you burn. Therefore, doing house chores does burn calories, although probably not nearly as many as people believe.

Calories Burned During Chores

Working in and around the house does, indeed, burn calories. The amount of calories burned will be specific to the individual based on a number of factors including:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Body weight
  • Body composition (lean body mass versus fat)
  • Effort expended
  • Other individual differences metabolic rate

While calories burned vary, it is possible to determine an average rate of caloric burn based on an average weight of 150 pounds, but keep in mind that your individual rate may be higher or lower. In general, if you weigh less your calorie burn rate will be slightly lower. If you weigh more, your burn rate may be slightly higher.

Chore Length of Time Calories Burned
dishes by hand (standing)
30 minutes 39 (FitDay)
Vacuuming 30 minutes 45 (FitDay)
Ironing 30 minutes 44 (CalorieLab)
Dusting 30 minutes 52 (CalorieLab)
Mowing the lawn (non-riding mower) 60 minutes 250 to 350 (WebMD)
Raking leaves 60 minutes 350 to 450 (WebMD)
Sweeping/mopping 30 minutes 86 (CalorieLab)
Gardening 60 minutes 300 (WebMD)
Cooking 60 minutes 90 (FitDay)
Folding laundry 30 minutes 74 (Diet Bites)
Moving furniture 25 minutes 100 (Health)
Cleaning the bathroom 35 minutes 100 (Health)
Washing windows 30 minutes 100 (Health)
Making bed 15 minutes 30 (Calorie Count)
Scrubbing (vigorous) 1 hour 200 (My Fitness Pal)
Chopping wood 30 minutes 211 (My Fitness Pal)
Moving boxes of household items 30 minutes 240 (My Fitness Pal)
Scrubbing the tub 15 minutes 90 (Shape)
Washing/waxing the car 60 minutes 153 (Shape)
Rearranging (closets, shelves, etc.) 60 minutes 85 (Shape)
Shoveling snow 60 minutes 415 (Readers Digest)
Painting 60 minutes 290 (Readers Digest)
Cleaning gutters 60 minutes 320 (Fitness Magazine)
Loading the dishwasher 30 minutes 105 (Bustle)
Light cleaning (general) 30 minutes 100 (LiveScience)

Typically, the difference in weight and calories burned doing chores is between 0.5 and 0.75 calories per pound for light to moderate activity and .75 to 1 calorie per pound for heavy activity, but this formula is only a general guideline based on caloric differences calculated using the sources above. Likewise, other metabolic factors will play a role, as well.

The Bottom Line

Performing chores does burn calories, but unless you are doing vigorous chores for extended periods, it won't affect your overall calorie burn rate that much. When calculating your daily metabolic rate (or your caloric burn rate), performing light chores will be figured into standard activity levels, while regularly performing heavy chores may have more of an effect. In the end, unless you are performing heavy chores for an hour or more daily, chances are you won't be burning enough calories during housework to affect weight loss or help you get in shape.

Do House Chores Burn Calories?