Turn Your Household Chores Into Toned Arms

We live in a 24/7 society. There’s no off button, no pause. It’s go, go, go. Forty-hour work weeks have become 80-hour work weeks, and we still cram every spare moment of downtime with errands and tasks. From balancing work and family to keeping pace in the era of email and text messages, life can get pretty hectic. So where does that leave exercise? How do we burn fat and stay toned on a busy schedule?

Over 54 million people in the U.S belong to a gym or health club. How many of those members made it to the gym on a regular basis to exercise remains to be seen. In fact, the amount of gym and health club membership money that goes to waste from under utilization is probably a lot like that stack of dirty dishes resembling The Leaning Tower of Pisa in your kitchen sink. But here’s the thing: you don’t need a gym membership to stay fit. You can get rid of that stack of dirty dishes in your sink – as well as the yellow water rings around your bathtub – when you turn your household chores into an exercise routine.

Nobody said cleaning the house was fun. But toning your arms while doing chores is the perfect way to multitask in your time-crunched life. And thinking about how many calories you’re burning as you mop is a lot more fun than just mopping. Here are 5 muscle building household duties:



You can burn plenty of calories vacuuming the floors of your home, especially when you put some elbow grease into it by using the vacuum extension hose. Still, even a quick 20-minute vacuum, three times a week, is a good cardio workout that tones the arms and legs. Trade in your treadmill for a trusted Hoover. You can up the ante – as well as the sweat factor – by adding walking lunges to your vacuum routine.

  • Calories burned: Roughly 100 per 30 minutes
  • Muscles worked: Biceps, triceps, deltoids, trapezius, pectoralis, gluteus


mop for arms

Mopping and scrubbing the floors, whether they’re tile or wood, is a more physically strenuous household chore than vacuuming. In other words, you’re not only going to burn more calories, but you’re going to feel the biceps and triceps burn a little more too. The overall success of a household workout depends on how intensely you tackle the chore and how thorough you are. (That’s right, move the appliances and mop behind the stove and refrigerator.)

  • Calories burned: Roughly 175-200 per 30 minutes
  • Muscles worked: Biceps, triceps, deltoids, trapezius, pectoralis, gluteus

Gardening and Yard Work

garden for tone

Hate the idea of going to a Pilates class? How about some gardening and light yard work instead? Weeding, gardening, raking, and cleaning the gutters are all outdoor activities that can help you stay fit. Your arms will see the best results, however, digging up old tulip bulbs, raking leaves, and clearing sticks and debris from the gutters involves using your biceps and triceps. When you’re knee-deep in the garden, digging and planting, your thigh and calf muscles get a good workout too. Raking and bagging leaves might be a tiresome task, but it’s a good form of weight training. While you’re at it, go ahead and mow the lawn with a walking power mower to trim another 375 calories from your daily intake. Not only will you look good after working in your yard for a month, but your yard will look like a million bucks, too.

  • Calories burned: Roughly 270-315 per hour
  • Muscles worked: Biceps, triceps, deltoids, trapezius, pectoralis, thigh, calf, gluteus

Painting a Room

paint walls for arms

There’s nothing like a new coat of paint to brighten up a room in your home. Whether you use a paintbrush or a roller, painting not only changes the color tone of your walls but the muscle tone of your arms. This household chore stretches and works every muscle in your upper body. Walking 10,000 steps a day can burn anywhere from 300-500 calories, but you’ll burn more than that when you’re climbing up and down a step-ladder carrying paint cans all day.

  • Calories burned: Roughly 300-500 per hour
  • Muscles worked: Biceps, triceps, deltoids, trapezius, pectoralis, thigh, calf, gluteus

Washing the Dishes

washing plates

Washing the dishes is not a particularly strenuous household chore. Scrubbing the grease off a stack of dirty pans, however, does give the arms a good workout. And when you dry all the dishes and stack and shelve them, you can easily burn off some of the evening’s dinner, or at least that extra glass of wine you had with dinner.

  • Calories burned: Roughly 85 per 30 minutes
  • Muscles worked: Biceps and triceps

Doing Laundry

do laundry

You don’t burn a lot of calories doing laundry. And unless it’s a hot summer day, you’re not breaking a gym-like sweat folding a few loads of darks, either. However, most people do laundry several times a week, and it’s the frequency, like reps on a weight machine, that adds up to several calories burned per week.

  • Calories burned: Roughly 70 per hour
  • Muscles worked: Biceps and triceps

Child Care Activities

keep up with kids

Between bathing, dressing, feeding, lifting and pushing a stroller, child care activities are hard work. Sure, when your little one sleeps you get a break, but other than that you’re on your feet all day – and half the night sometimes, too. Caring for a young child is a full-body workout, and when the child gets older, well, the workout can get more intense; you’ll be playing, running, and doing other activities that burn calories and help you stay fit.

  • Calories burned: Roughly 200-250 per hour
  • Muscles worked: Full-body workout

Health Tracker Apps

tracking your weight

According to The Guardian, there are over 50,000 health apps on the market. There are health tracking apps that count calories, analyze sleep, monitor blood sugar, measure pulse and respiratory rate, and graph drinking habits. Wearable technology and health tracking apps are a fast-growing industry and good way for you to monitor the amount of calories you burn doing household chores. If you’re in the market for a new health tracker app, consider one of these popular choices:

Smartphones revolutionized the news, video, and transportation industries, and when it comes to health and fitness apps, the (toned) arms race has only just begun.