Shift Your Mindset: Cleaning is Exercise

Much of the country is blanketed in snow. Even parts of the Southern US, unaccustomed to snow and unequipped with snow plows (cities) or snow tires (people), got more than 8 inches, covering roads and walkways. It’s hard to keep up with your fitness routines when you can’t get outside to walk or run, or drive safely to the gym.

If you feel like turning cabin fever into an early bout of spring cleaning, take heart that you may be helping your health in the process. In fact, just thinking about cleaning as exercise may yield health benefits.

In a Harvard research study conducted by Alia Crum and Ellen Langer, hotel housekeepers reported that they had low levels of physical activity. And in spite of their jobs lifting and toting as they cleaned rooms on the clock, the women had blood pressure and waistlines that reflected inactive lifestyles. In the study, half of the women attended an information session outlining how their jobs ARE physical activity. Four weeks later – the informed women “showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index.” Just learning that the activity they were ALREADY doing as exercise – without changing their activity – helped them gain the benefits of exercise.

Your mind matters – what you think and feel can have a concrete, tangible effect on your body. So, if you’re spending snow-bound time scrubbing out cupboards and cleaning closets, remembering that all that stretching, reaching, lifting, and toting counts as exercise. You just have to know that it counts.

Read an analysis of the study from NPR by clicking here.

Read the original study by clicking here (paid subscription or institutional access to the academic journal required.)