October 19, 2018

How to lose weight — by working around the house

It’s January again, which means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. (Can I hear an unenthusiastic “yay”?)

One of the most popular resolutions every year is to lose weight. But before you get a gym membership or vow to lay off the pastrami, keep in mind that there’s an easier way to burn calories — by doing things around the house.

According to CalorieLab, an online health and nutrition database, simple household activities such as redecorating, cleaning or gardening can burn just as many calories as some exercises. The following are some common household tasks, along with the number of calories burned per hour for a typical 150-pound person. So this year, resolve to give your home a makeover, and you’ll be doing your body some good as well.

Moving furniture

Calories burned: 340

The new year is a great time to take a fresh look at the furniture and accessories in your home — and move them around. Besides rearranging larger furniture pieces such as chairs and tables, I also love the idea of switching accessories around in different rooms. For example, move some tchotchkes from the living room into the various bedrooms and vice versa. It will feel like you have new décor items without spending a dime. January is also the time to pack up all the holiday items, box them, and carry them to storage — all calorie-burning activities.

And if you have to go up and down stairs as you move your household items, you burn even more, up to 544 calories. For comparison, vigorous weightlifting burns 340 calories per hour, while circuit training burns 476 calories.

Painting the walls

Calories burned: 238

Giving your walls a new paint color is one of the most effective ways to freshen up your home — and get the heart pumping. The continuous movement of the paint brush or roller also helps condition your arms. And while you’re waiting for the paint to dry, do a few bicep curls with the paint cans for some extra toning.

Sweeping and vacuuming

Calories burned: 156 to 170

I always work up a sweat cleaning the floors. And quite frankly, it takes me more than an hour to do the whole house, so say goodbye to even more calories.

Cleaning the gutters

Calories burned: 272

In the winter months, it’s important to remove fallen leaves and debris from your gutters, as a well-maintained gutter system will help prevent water damage to your home. The next time it rains, check to see if water is running freely from your downspouts. If water is trickling out of the spouts, it’s probably time to clean out the debris, either with your hands or by flushing the system with a garden hose.

Refinishing your wood furniture

Calories burned: 238

If your cabinets or wood furniture could use a new finish, the elbow grease involved with buffing, polishing and waxing is a major calorie crusher. You’ll also no doubt be moving the furniture around as you go, which means burning even more calories. 


Calories burned: 136 to 340

Whether you’re weeding, trimming shrubs, hauling branches or chopping wood, working in your yard is great exercise. Even casually strolling through the garden to pick flowers or vegetables can make a difference. And the fresh air will do you good.

Cooking and setting the table

Calories burned: 68 to 102

All that work around the house is bound to make you hungry. The good news is that the process of cooking actually burns calories, and setting the table burns even more. So does that mean the more you cook, the more weight you lose? Hmm, I’ll test that hypothesis and get back to you next year.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself  projects at