How a little energy in housework can help you lose weight and protect against dementia

Homework and exercise – these seem like a chore to most of us, especially as we get older.

But a study this week found that regular vacuuming, ironing and taking out the trash in middle and old age can reduce the risk dementia.

Those who did the most housework were one-fifth less likely to develop severe memory impairment than those who did the least.

This comes after researchers in February found that strenuous gardening was just as good at preventing early death as doing hundreds of push-ups, sit-ups, or sit-ups every week.

Researchers believe that investing some energy into housework acts as a form of exercise—not just for the body, but for the mind as well. Maintaining both indicators is considered crucial for the fight against dementia.

Lack of regular exercise can also increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and being overweight or obese, all of which raise your risk of a memory-impairing condition.

Dr Zakaria Waqar-Uddin, a general practitioner in west London, told MailOnline that even 10 minutes of housework can make people breathless and raise their heart rate, improving fitness.

He noted that it also requires moving between rooms and planning what you’re doing, which is why gray matter is “ticking” – areas of the brain thought to be most important for cognition.

We know that as we age, we move less. So, MailOnline has compiled a list of six ways to turn routine work into mini-workouts, and it was backed by experts.

Powerful Hoover attacks

Turn vacuuming into an incredible leg-burning exercise by doing lunges while vacuuming.

How to make them: Bend both knees as you step forward, lowering until your front knee is at a 90 degree angle and your back knee is an inch off the floor.

Push off with both feet and step forward, lifting your back foot and pushing it forward so that your back foot lands in front of you in a lunge position.

Lunges strengthen the hamstrings and calves, which helps stabilize the knee joint and may reduce the risk of joint strain and pain.

How much should you make? Try to do five sets of 10 reps with a 60-90 second break in between.

What do the experts say? Personal trainer Belle Hutt said lunges work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

These are “the largest muscle groups in the body, so you burn the most calories while strengthening your lower body,” she said.

Push-ups sweeping

Use the time between sweeping the floor and shoveling trash to strengthen your upper body and core.

How to make them: Make sure both hands are free as you bend over and get on all fours, keeping your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.

Straighten your arms and legs and lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor. Pause, then rise again. Repetition. If this is too difficult, try getting on all fours.

Push-ups improve upper body and core strength, increase joint stability, and maintain strength as you age—which can help older adults stay active longer and reduce the risk of falls.

How much should you make? Try to do five sets of five reps with a 60-90 second break in between.

What do the experts say? Ms Hutt said, “This is a compound movement that improves core stability and upper body strength.”

Personal trainer Tom Opper added: “In order to keep progressing over time, it’s important to apply the principle of progressive overload, which involves adding more work to the program so your body can continue to adapt.

“This can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as adding reps, slowing down the pace of each movement, or adding a quarter rep at the end of each rep.”

Wash Squats

Hanging up laundry or washing dishes can be a workout in itself, especially if you have a large family. But squats while doing work are perfect for adding an extra layer of challenge.

How to make them: When emptying the washing machine or dishwasher, squat as low to the ground as possible while maintaining proper form. To do this, you need to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight and sit on your buttocks.

Gather clothes with your hands only and try not to hold on to any surfaces, this will make the exercise too easy.

People already do squats, it’s part of everyday life, like when they get up from sitting, get out of bed and clean up.


Adults are encouraged to engage in some physical activity every day. Exercising just once or twice a week can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke.

Persons over 18 years of age should strive to:

  • Do strength exercises that target all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) at least two days a week. This includes carrying heavy shopping bags, yoga, Pilates, and weight lifting.
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Moderate activity includes brisk walking, cycling, dancing and doubles tennis. Vigorous activities include running, swimming, and cycling fast or up hills.
  • Spread the exercises evenly over four to five days a week or every day.
  • Cut down on time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of immobility with some activity.

Adults can also reach their weekly activity goals by:

  • Several short sessions of very intense activity. This includes lifting weights, circuit training, and uphill sprints.
  • A combination of moderate, vigorous and very intense activity.

Source; NHS

But adding extra calories burns calories, increases muscle strength, and improves mobility, balance, and posture.

How much should you make? Try to do five sets of 10 reps with a 60-90 second break in between.

What do the experts say? Ms Hutt said, “This is another compound exercise that not only improves lower body strength but also core strength. Remember to keep your back straight and engage your core.”

Cleaning the surface of one leg

No matter how many times you clean them, surfaces just can’t stay clean, can they?

Use this as a positive way to get extra exercise. Standing upright while cleaning burns about four calories per minute, and standing on one leg takes even more physical and mental effort.

How to make them: To make your legs work harder, try balancing on one of them while doing everyday household chores.

Studies have shown that the ability to stand on one leg in general is a good sign of health, and those who cannot do so are twice as likely to die in their sixties.

It is also associated with a reduced risk of falls and improved quality of life.

This seemingly simple exercise relies on good balance and muscle strength as the feet, ankles, legs and core all rely on staying upright.

How much should you make? Aim to hold 30 seconds on each leg and do them three times each with a 60 second rest in between.

What do the experts say? Ms Hutt said: “This improves stability/balance for longevity and quality of life.” Engage and stress your core for the best success.”

Additional stairs

Carrying cleaning supplies, linens, or other household items up and down stairs burns extra calories.

To make your heart work harder, add a few extra steps up and down the stairs.

How to make them: While holding the subject in front of you, make sure you can stay upright and see where you are going. Do several hikes while maintaining good posture and squeezing your leg muscles with each step.

Holding objects in front of you strengthens the upper body and engages the core, while squeezing the legs strengthens the muscles and improves balance.

How much should you make? If you’re aiming for a total of 10,000 steps per day – the recommended number of steps per day – do five ups and downs for each section of laundry.

Divide your laundry into five pieces: socks/underwear, T-shirts, linens, dresses/trousers, and towels.

What do the experts say? Dr. Waqar-Uddin said that this weight-bearing exercise will make a person’s heart work harder, increasing the efficiency of housework as exercise.

“In a cost-of-living crisis, people are short on money, so they may not be able to afford a gym. Anything that gets them moving, moving and makes them gasp around the house can be helpful,” he added.

Ms Hutt said, “I suggest doing this exercise/work first to warm up and prepare your body for the next exercises.”

A little elbow grease

Cleaning and polishing become much more difficult tasks if they are carried out vigorously.

How to make them: Using high chemical products does a lot of the hard work for you, removing a lot of dirt and grime in a matter of minutes.

But choosing hot water and vinegar can have the same effect – with a much cheaper price – if you’re willing to splurge. It engages your core, shoulders, and arms, increases your heart rate, and burns more calories.

In addition, doing more thorough housework – crawling under the sofa with a dustpan and brush and cleaning other hard-to-reach places – will not only make your house cleaner, but also turn ordinary cleaning into a workout.

If it gets too intense, treat it like the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) made popular by Joe Wicks, where cleansing every few minutes is followed by rest intervals of 15 to 45 seconds.

Emily Servante, certified personal trainer for Ultimate Performance, explained that activities like housework “burn more calories than we expected.”

Cleaning falls under the category of non-exercise thermogenesis – all energy is wasted when you are awake and not exercising.

“People may not realize that the calories burned by accumulating all these small activities will vastly outnumber the calories you burned by exhausting yourself on the treadmill or stationary bike,” she said.

“Combining household chores with a few basic exercises like those described in [this] programs can significantly increase your daily energy expenditure,” added Ms. Servante.