5 Everyday Activities That Count as Exercise

In Fitness Independence by Matt

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Guest Post By Maria Ivanov


We don’t always look forward to the day-to-day activities in our lives. It may help to know that some of these tasks do double duty and qualify as exercise. They can also save money because, unlike a gym membership or workout equipment, they’re free! Here are five everyday activities that also count as exercise.

1. Yard Work

If you’ve spent any time gardening, mowing, or raking, you know it’s a strenuous activity. Of all the activities on our list, this will blast the most calories and work muscles the hardest. Lighter activities such as planting and weeding your garden burn 200-400 calories per hour. Mowing the lawn burns 350 calories an hour, and you’re getting the muscle benefit of pushing the mower. Raking and bagging leaves burns 350-450 calories an hour. It also works your arms, back, and ab muscles (hello obliques!) with the bending and twisting. And then there’s the really heavy lifting. Moving rocks, hauling bags of dirt and serious landscaping torches 400-600 calories an hour. You’ll have a great excuse to skip the gym!


If you live in a colder climate, shoveling snow off your driveway is an excellent workout. You’ll burn 400-600 calories an hour while working almost every muscle group. This is especially true for arm, back, and chest muscles. If you get a lot of snow over the winter, it could count as a big part of your workout routine.

2. Walking the Dog

You and your pup will enjoy the benefits of a daily walk. Besides the calorie burn (approximately 150 calories an hour), you’ll get outside in the fresh air. This can relieve stress and boost your mood. Go to a park (Denver, for example, has more than 250 of them) for more scenic dog duty and to connect with people in your community. Pick up the pace a little and jog for a block. Fido will also appreciate the exercise.

3. Cooking


Chopping, mixing, and even washing dishes burn a surprising amount of calories (around 150 calories an hour). You’re usually standing rather than sitting, which burns even more calories. You can add in an arm workout by shelving the mixer and stirring ingredients by hand. Pro tip: Cooking doesn’t count as exercise if you snack while you cook!

4. Cleaning


Mundane chores such as dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and doing laundry can seem a bit more exciting if you think of them as exercise. These activities burn (on average) 165 calories an hour. Your muscles are getting a workout, too, because of the bending and reaching. Mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming tone arms while decimating dirt and dust bunnies. Consider adding extra movement when you can. Do a few side twists while holding your laundry basket, run up and down the stairs while picking up clutter.

5. Shopping


Whether you’re at the grocery store or the mall, when you’re shopping, you’re walking. Walking burns calories (around 200 calories an hour), so shopping absolutely counts as exercise. Plus you’re checking items off your to-do list so you’re saving time by multitasking.

While you won’t be able to skip your workout completely, daily tasks can help you get closer to your fitness goals. So next time you’re dreading a household chore, look at it as a mini-workout for motivation to get it done.

Maria Ivanov is a fitness trainer with a passion for foods — the healthier the better. She grows her own vegetables, herbs,  and as many fruit trees as she can on a half-acre plot.