The Home Improvement Workout

Associated Expert
Can't Make it to the Gym? It's okay! Do-it-yourself instead!

Does your exercise routine have you in a rut? No time for the gym? No problem-you can probably burn all the calories you want by rolling up your sleeves and tackling those longstanding, long-overdue projects around the house. You'll get your workout in and have something to show for your efforts at the end of the day.

Hard to believe a project around the house could replace your step class? Just think about the how sore you felt the last time you finished an arduous job like painting the outside of your house, tearing out carpeting, or stripping and refinishing a piece of furniture. Those aching muscles got that way because they were pushed to their limits. Strenuous physical labor burns calories fast, builds muscle mass, and can help develop coordination and balance. Combine that with the satisfaction of a doing it yourself and you've got plenty of reasons to head to the workshop for your workout.

But, just how much are you burning? Well, we went through a number of typical home improvement projects and determined which ones will help you not just get your home in shape, but will shape you up as well! Want to max your results: prepare your tools and materials ahead of time, warm up properly, and then work continuously and quickly. Obviously keep safety in mind and keep your focus on your work. Soon, those beads of sweat will be telling you you're burning enough energy to rival your routine at the local fitness center.

NOTE: The calorie counts we've determined for these projects are based on a 140 pound, 38 year-old woman. If your weight is above or below 140, you can determine the exact number of calories you're burning by simply visiting the websites we mention at the end of this article.

Get Out!

Gardening is a great way to get your daily allowance of vitamin D and work off a few calories while you are at it. Besides beautiful blooming bougainvilleas, green thumb Janes can also rejoice in the fact that every hour they spend in the garden burns approximately 300 calories.* Maybe your garden has gotten out of hand and is need of a major overhaul. Get out there and rent a chainsaw and you can count on burning about 380 calories an hour chopping down those overgrown trees and shrubs. Not to mention you'll be building major muscle mass from holding the machine up for extended periods of time. If you forego the power tools for an axe, you will get even more of a workout. Chopping wood manually burns about 400 calories an hour.

Preparing for winter weather also give you the opportunity to work that body. Putting up your storm doors and windows is a pretty boring chore but will allow you to indulge in a second piece of pizza later, using up to 320 calories per hour. If your annual gutter cleaning reveals a lot of damage, don't be too upset about having to replacing them. Think of it this way: three hours of hard labor will burn off almost 1,000 calories. That's equal to a great dinner out on the town!

Stay In!

It's especially hard to maintain or lose weight during the long winter season. After all, bathing suit season is months away and it's much easier to hibernate at home than run in the cold or fight your way to the gym. Because we do spend so much of our time cooped up inside, winter is the perfect time to tackle all of those projects you have been putting off. Doing so will not only make you feel better about where you live and keep you in shape, but will help keep the seasonal blues at bay.

Has your carpet seen better days? Had one too many beverages spilled on it? If so, you have no reason not to pull it up and start over. Ripping up new carpet and installing a new one burns about 290 calories an hour, and is a several-hour job. Of course, you will have to move your furniture to get to the carpet. If you decide to rearrange your furniture after the carpet is down, you can subtract 420 calories from your last meal.

Other indoor calorie-busters include dry walling (200 cal/hr), electrical or plumbing work (260 cal/hr) and sawing by hand (480 cal/hour). Have an old piece of furniture that needs a new life? Refinish that old desk and chair and you will melt 290 calories away.

Paint the Pounds Away

Painting is a quick and easy fix for any room of the house. As it turns out, this activity can also help keep you fit. Slapping some paint on a fence will burn off about 285 calories an hour, while covering up those mauve walls your spare bedroom will allow you to bid goodbye to about 200 calories per hour of work. (We aren't even counting the prep work here!) If you feel the urge, a new coat of paint on the exterior of your house is a major calorie-kicker, too. A full day's work (about 8 hours) will burn more than 2,500 calories!

So, while we don't recommend doing home improvement tasks solely to lose weight, now you can count a workout as an added bonus! If you do not exercise regularly or have health problems, ask your doctor before you take on a major task. Much like a do-it-yourself project, exercise is something that you should take on gradually. As you get stronger and more confident, you will be able to build up your endurance level.

So, whether you are a gym rat or an exercise novice, now you really have no excuse to give your home and your body a makeover they deserve. So don't feel guilty if you don't make it down to the gym this weekend-as long as you break a sweat working around the house. It's a workout that's good for you and your home.

Remember, all calculations are based on a 140-pound woman. If your weight is significantly above or below this number, pay a visit to these websites to get a better estimate of your calorie burn rate:

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