Housework is Good for Every Body!
While having a clean house is healthful, there's another way that doing household chores can improve your life: The physical exertion you use when cleaning helps build your overall fitness. "It's burning calories, getting your heart rate up a little bit and moving your body," says Harvard Medical School associate professor of medicine Harvey B. Simon, MD, author of "The No Sweat Exercise Plan: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Live Longer".

You don't need to dust all day to get activity benefits from cleaning. According to Dr. Simon, the accepted wisdom used to be that exercise was "something that required a discreet set-aside period of time," in which you would get your heart rate up aerobically and keep it up for an extended stretch. "Now we've learned from an enormous body of literature that to be healthy you don't have to do that."

Instead, his research developed a new way of looking at healthful activity--by measuring the cardio metabolic exercise (or CME) value of everyday and recreational activities. This rating shows how well a physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer and breast cancer, as well as protect against weight gain and developing diabetes.

Each activity is given a CME point value. Aim for 1,000 CME points per week, or about 150 a day, to achieve and maintain good health. For weight loss, increase that daily total to 300 and the weekly to about 2,000, Dr. Simon advises. These housecleaning activities, done at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes each, can contribute to your daily 150 CME points for healthful physical activity:

- Dusting, 75 CME points.

- Household chores, 115 CME points.

- Ironing or laundering clothes, 70 CME points.

- Mopping, 115 CME points.

- Scrubbing the floor, 185 CME points.

- Sweeping, 90 CME points.

- Washing dishes, 60 CME points.

- Vacuuming, 115 CME points.

To compare those numbers with walking for 30 minutes, a 140-pound person earns 85 CME points at a 2 mph pace, 110 CME points at 3 mph and 150 CME points at 4 mph.

Since many of us don't vacuum or dust for 30 minutes straight, you can combine 10 minutes of dusting with 10 minutes of brisk walking and 10 minutes of vacuuming to accumulate similar CME point totals (depending upon activity intensity). Adding short bits of other physical activities will help you reach your daily goal.

Realizing that housework is beneficial exercise might not make it more appealing, but it does provide a reward that lasts longer than a clean bathroom.