Clean your way to Health and Happiness

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Can you think yourself fitter, healthier, happier – YES you can and here’s how.

Right now our lives are all being restricted in some way, whether it’s not being able to eat out, or getting to the gym, not seeing friends or generally being stuck in the house longer than usual. So it’s easy to see how people could fall into unhealthy habits, eating more comfort food, exercising less and generally being miserable about what they can’t do, all the while getting unfit, unhealthy and unhappy.

Here’s a thought…what if you have been doing exercise all along, but not getting any of the health benefits because you hadn’t acknowledged it as exercise in your brain ……. Crazy thought… intrigued yet?

So check out this thought provoking piece of research by Harvard psychologist, Ellen Langer that might just make you look at things differently and help you to be fitter, healthier and happier, without changing or adding anything to what you are currently doing.

So the research set out to look at whether our perception of how much exercise we are getting has any effect on how our bodies actually respond and look?

This study took 84 female hotel maids working in seven different hotels and measured their weight, BMI, hip:waist ratio and blood pressure. She then split them into 2 groups, one group were informed that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) was good exercise and satisfies government recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided and the number of calories they were burning. Subjects in the other (control) group were not given this information and left to carry on as normal. Although actual behaviour (cleaning activities) did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before and as a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. Really what this suggests is that if you believe you are exercising, your body may respond as if it is!

Like many of us the hotel maids didn’t realise their jobs qualified as exercise, but when they did realise that they exceeded the recommended guidelines for fitness they started losing weight, and feeling better.

What could that mean for you?

Let’s look at our daily lives, how much activity are we doing throughout the day without perceiving it as exercise. Just as a starter, here are some examples of chores we do most days and the associated calorie burn.

While age, weight, and gender play a role, on average it’s possible to burn anywhere from 100-300 calories per hour doing housework, all depending on the type of activity and vigour with which you do it. Use the following estimates, based on a body weight of 150 lbs, to help you determine how many calories you might burn doing about an hour of typical daily housework/ cleaning:

  • Sweeping x 10 minutes = 37 calories
  • Vacuuming x 10 minutes = 37 calories
  • Ironing x 20 minutes = 50 calories
  • Mopping x 20 minutes = 42 calories
  • Making beds x 10 minutes = 23 calories
  • Washing dishes x 10minutes = 26 calories

How many of you are already thinking about how much exercise you have already done today?

This area of psychology has fascinated me for years and I have also published research on this very subject, which I call the ‘Expectancy Effect’ – in one experiment people who believed they were getting a drink to improve their performance, but didn’t receive anything (Psychological effect) actually out performed those people who were given a performance enhancing drink, but didn’t know they had received it (physiological effect). Again showing the power of belief (Mindset) and how our thoughts absolutely impact and control our health and happiness.

So what are some of the take aways we can gleam and use to help you on your Mental and Physical Fitness journey.

  • Have a goal so your mindset can get focussed on an outcome.
  • Have a plan so you can SEE and understand the effort/activities you are doing.
  • Believe in what you are doing, you have just read how powerful your mind can be and the impact of your thoughts.
  • Keep track on your progress so you can see how well your plan is working.
  • Reward yourself as you go, positive reinforcement psychologically is way more powerful that negative/guilt reinforcement.
  • Be aware of your thoughts and what you are telling yourself.


It’s a no brainer really, do the housework and exercise all at the same time and actually get fitter and healthier. On top of that we all know the link between physical health and happiness. The healthier we are the happier we tend to be, so it’s a win win win.

Hope you have enjoyed this little bit of research and are now feeling much better about the additional amount of exercise you now understand you are doing.

Any questions of comments are welcomed.

Take care and stay safe.


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