It’s no secret that exercise is important for good health and key to promoting diabetes management and glucose stability.  Activity is one of the simplest and most effective ways to bring down blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help weight loss, lower stress, increase balance and flexibility and improve sleep. The American Diabetes Association recommends  “a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise per week, spread over at least 3 days with no more than 2 days between sessions, for most adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes”.  This may sound like a lot, but did you know that everyday activities can count as exercise?!  In fact, many household chores that you do daily can count towards your activity goal. Let’s look at some ways you can use spring cleaning to get active and healthy while tidying up your surroundings at the same time!


1. Vacuuming the house and mopping the floors


Not only does vacuuming and mopping get your heart rate up, but it helps strengthen your arm muscles with the pushing/pulling motion and with lifting objects that you move out of the way. You can even work your core and abs if you tighten them while cleaning. 


Tip: Try to vacuum or mop for at least 10 minutes to get in a third of your daily activity goal.


2. Working outside in your garden/landscaping


Spruce up your outdoor environment while getting in some exercise too! Raking leaves will give you a similar workout to vacuuming.  If you are pulling weeds make sure to have proper cushioning for your knees and some good gloves to protect your hands. Avoid bending over at the hips to minimize lower back pain, instead, opt to bend from a squat or deep hip hinge for lifting larger objects, or squat down to the ground to gather. Activating your legs and glutes will promote healthy functional movement, muscle tonight and reduce risk of injury to your back and shoulders. Engage your core while gardening to strengthen it and to protect your lower back.  


Tip: Achieve your daily activity goal by doing multiple yard activities such as weeding, raking, trimming and cleaning in a timespan of 30 minutes.  Take short breaks to sip water or take a breather if needed.


3. Hand washing your car


Save money and keep your car nice and shiny while also working in activity, by washing your car yourself.  Soaping up, rinsing, drying, and polishing by hand certainly counts as cardio and you can add some squats when you wash the lower parts like the wheels.


Tip: If you want to add more minutes of activity, clean the inside of your car with a vacuum, along with throwing out trash and wiping it down.


4. Dusting, scrubbing and wiping surfaces


Keep your counters, shelves and surfaces dust and dirt free while also getting exercise. Lots of bending down and extending your arms and stretching up to your tippy toes will work your many muscles and your cardiovascular system, as well as promote mobility and flexibility.


Tip:  Go room to room to dust and wipe the entire house to maximize your active minutes.  If you don’t have time, break it up by doing a few rooms per session.


5. Organizing and decluttering


Tidying up your living space can be a great way to get in some movement to your day. Sorting, lifting and moving objects gets your heart rate up and your muscles working.  Be careful with any heavy lifting using proper technique to protect your back and knees with guidelines listed HERE.


Tip: maximize your activity by standing, instead of sitting to burn more calories when you are sorting and cleaning out clutter and try to add squatting to work your legs and glutes.



Some additional helpful tips for cleaning as exercise include:


  • Make sure you are medically cleared for activity if you plan to do regular cleaning. As with starting any exercise program, make sure your doctor gives you the ok to do household chores, namely if you haven’t been doing activity in the past or have had a change in your health condition.


  • Check your blood sugar if you are on glucose lowering medications or have pre-activity BG monitoring in your treatment plan.  Keep in mind that cleaning counts as activity and should be treated as such in terms of its potential to lower blood sugar.  Depending on your pre-activity target blood sugars, you may need to have a snack if your bgs are low or hold off on cleaning if they are exceedingly high.


  • Take breaks if you need them. Just like during exercise, give yourself breaks to stretch, sip water or take a breather if you need to recharge.


  • Dress appropriately for cleaning like you would for exercise.  Wear comfortable clothing and consider the temperature you will be working in. 


  • Create a cleaning schedule that works with your activity goals. Factor in your chores when thinking about your weekly exercise goals and realize that as little as 5 minutes or more of cleaning can count towards daily exercise.