Spare the mop and spoil the waistline

2012-04-04 00:00

WHILE washing windows, mopping floors and doing other household chores are hardly popular, housewives and househusbands can help to motivate themselves by seeing housework as a fitness work-out.

“The worst thing is inactivity,” said Ingo Froboese, a professor at the Health Centre of the German Sport University in Cologne. “Our billions of body cells don’t care what kind of exercise we do. The main thing is getting exercise, and that goes for doing housework too.”

Rainer Stamminger, a professor of home economics at Bonn University, takes a similar view. “Not regarding housework as a burden, but using it as a personal fitness programme provides motivation for unloved chores,” he said. “When the weather’s fine, hang the laundry out to dry on the balcony or in the yard. For one thing, it’ll smell better afterwards, and you’ll get some sun as well.”

Modern household appliances, such as washing machines, dryers and food processors have greatly reduced the amount of physical activity needed in the home. As Stamminger noted: “Housework today, has nothing in common with housework 50 or 100 years ago. It’s far less strenuous. Washing laundry by hand, for example, used to be hard work.”

So in order to get exercise while doing household chores, a few small tricks may be necessary. For instance, Froboese recommends having the laundry basket in another room during ironing, and fetching each piece of laundry separately.

“Getting in an extra 3 000 steps a day is the equivalent of walking two kilometres,” Froboese said. He said his research showed that “suboptimally challenging exercise has the best effect on the body”. In other words, you don’t have to break a sweat doing the housework to stay in shape.

Andreas Mueller, a sports scientist with the German Fitness Instructors’ Association, disagrees. Light physical activity during housework does not promote fitness, he said. Instead, a person would have to climb up and down a ladder while washing windows, for example, which is similar to a work-out on a step machine. In general, he said, a chore has to be strenuous enough to cause muscle aches to have any health benefits, such as kneading by hand, washing laundry by hand or chopping wood.

Gathering dirty laundry, ironing, and sorting and putting away clean laundry also take a lot of energy, Stamminger said.

Froboese, Stamminger and Mueller all agree that housework is much more palatable when combined with fitness or entertainment.

“Someone who views housework as a fitness programme is happier than someone who regards it solely as a burden,” Stamminger said. “Washing windows and ironing are very unpopular. Cooking meals and garden work are much better liked. A lot of people in our studies find ironing less onerous if they can watch television at the same time.”

Stamminger does not advocate a lot of diversion while doing chores, however. Rather, he thinks they should be performed expeditiously.

“I’d wash all the windows in one go because you’ve got to prepare the wiper, wash leather and cleaning bucket,” he said, adding that it was a good idea to do a chore from start to finish, and not interrupt window washing to cook or wash laundry, for example. “This is also sensible from an environmental standpoint. Someone who washes only a few windows needs more water, and produces more waste water.”

Hard work burns a lot of calories. The Consumer Initiative, a Germany-wide consumer-protection organisation, has listed the number of kilocalories that a person weighing 70 kilograms will burn by doing various household chores for 15 minutes — tidying up: 30, ironing: 35, cooking: 40, hanging laundry: 50, mopping the floor: 60, making the beds: 62, vacuum cleaning: 70, washing windows: 83, working in the garden: 88, climbing stairs: 121. — Sapa-dpa.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.