The Household Workout

Several years ago I wrote an article on functional fitness and how to perform construction work in a manner, which would, effectively and safely, build your muscle, mass and burn fat.

After a recent discussion with a client, it dawned on me that a similar article was needed for the domestic engineer.

There are many citizens whose work place are their homes and were physical exertion and manual labor is the bulk of their job description

To start off, when performing housework, or when driving or when simply walking from room to room, you should keep your abdominal muscles tucked and tight. This strengthens your core, improves your posture and burns calories.

Tucking your abs is done by, pulling your navel in and then up towards your spine and holding them there, to visualize this touch your navel with your index finger. Push in and then push up.

If you do this consciously for several weeks it will be come automatic and you wont barely even think about it. You will actually will feel funny if you don’t do it.

In order to effectively build muscle we must remember to work both sides of the body in equal amounts. If your right-handed and washing windows, you should switch to your left hand, periodically, through out the cleaning session.

Lower Body

The largest muscle group of the body is the legs. Many household tasks require picking up items from the floor, i.e. toys, flower petals, etc or cleaning areas that are below the knees, i.e. baseboards, lower portion of picture windows, etc.

When picking up a series of lightweight objects (scattered toys for example) perform a lunge as you approach each object you are picking up. A lunge, or a split squat as is it is often called, is done when one leg is in front of the other, and the hips are lowered towards the floor until both legs form ninety-degree (90°) angles. Be sure the knee of the front leg does not travel past your toes. Be sure to switch legs for each object you have to pick up.

When performing tasks below the knees that require you to be in one position for a period of time (washing lower portion of windows), you can perform a static (not moving) squat. Meaning that you lower your buttocks down until your upper leg (thigh) is almost parallel to the floor. Be sure that your knees are not sticking out past your toes. Do the best you can to hold the position for the duration of the task.

For tasks performed above your head, i.e. washing top portion of windows, putting items on a high shelf, you can perform active and/or static calf raises.

Each time you reach up high, raise yourself up on the balls of your feet and lower yourself back down slowly. If working up high for extended time, try to stay on the balls of your feet for the duration of the task.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: WHEN LIFTING HEAVY OBJECTS OFF THE FLOOR, BEND YOUR KNEES, KEEP THE ITEM CLOSE TO YOUR BODY AND USE YOUR LEG MUSCLES TO LIFT, NOT YOUR BACK MUSCLES!

Upper Body

As I stated earlier, be sure to switch the arm or hand that is doing the work to ensure that both sides of the body get equal work.

When performing tasks above the waist line, i.e. putting groceries on the shelf or removing items from a shelf, perform a torso rotation when ever possible. If items are on you left and your placing them on shelves on your right, grasp with your hand and rotate your torso (turn your hips in the direction you want to place the item) from left to right as you put the items away. If you have to pull moderately heavy items off a shelf or counter that is above your waist, set your feet firmly apart and focus on using the muscles of your back to pull the item down. Grasp the item and retract your shoulder blades as you pull item down. To retract your shoulder blades, imagine a pencil is lying vertically along your spine and you want to squeeze it with your shoulder blades. This motion engages the muscles of your back and is the proper way to pull items from areas at your waist(a vacuum cleaner) above your waist, and particularly above your head!

I hope that these tips will prove useful to citizens whose days are filled with housework. I honestly feel that they will help to increase your current level of fitness and may take the monotony out of your daily housework!