If you could sign over one task to The Chore Fairy, what would it be?
- A. Dinner
- B. Vacuuming
- C. Dishes
Leave your answer below, but consider this too: It’s great to workout with “perfect” technique, but your core is likely working just as hard while you do chores & life and other stuff. Maybe ask what chore is hardest on your abs, especially if you have an abdominal gap (dialysis recti) or a wimpy bladder.
A Spring Cleaning Story:
My parents came to visit us this past weekend, so I kicked into cleaning mode. I vacuumed, dusted, and cleared out our guest room. It was full of Christmas decorations – don’t judge me – and workout gear. I had the kids clean the guest bathroom, make their bed up with fresh sheets, help with moving things around, and we were all sweaty when we were done!
I had planned to lift weights the next day, but my body was brilliant enough to offer me some signals of fatigue. It reminded me that I had basically done a full body weight workout while spring cleaning our guest room:
- moving furniture
- packing boxes
- carrying laundry & equipment
- vaccuuming & dusting
- changing the bedding
- wiping windows
- kneeling, standing, crawling
- reaching under and around the bed…
All adding up to several hours of big, intentional motions that created exertion in my body… and I noticed that I’m not the only one who seems to be in “Spring Cleaning” mode. So, we turned “Cores & Chores” into our social media theme for a week, and I’m summarizing all those posts here in this blog.
How are your abs in the kitchen?
Ever felt like you have a belly button magnet that pulls your tummy toward the counter? If you change one habit in the kitchen, let it be this: don’t let your tummy
lean into the counter while you’re working. Instead, pull your abs away from the counter and stand tall like the queen of your home… because you are!
Instead of keeping your feet in place and twisting to load dishes in awkward ways, pivot on your heels or toes, face the dishwasher, and squat down a little as you exhale to put the dishes into place.
Also, to help your core in the kitchen, consider making adjustments to your counters, sinks, or other surroundings
if your height keeps factoring into how you approach chores. It may seem drastic to consider getting a shallower sink or raising/lowering your counters, but kitchen work is for life. This is years spent at the counter, so it makes a difference in your core.
Healthy Home Updates
Let’s talk about tubs and tummies…
Cleaning out a bathtub must be one of the least-liked chores that my clients complain about because it hurts their cores! My best advice is to quit leaning over the edge and climb right into the bath, when it’s empty, of course.
Yep, climb right on into that tub and squat down.
Rather than leaning way over it from one side, snatch the chance to work your core and pelvic floor
from a more upright angle + improve your squatability! Use one hand to wipe, one hand to balance, and switch back and forth. Imagine wearing a crown, and don’t let it fall off which will help you keep your body more upright and tall.
Think: Long, lean & lifted through your torso and trunk.
Struggling with your squat? Wondering why it matters to your core?
Being able to squat well
can take a LOT of pressure out of your core because you can keep your torso taller and more upright + manage how much your pelvic floor has to handle.
More than Mundane: 5 Changes for Chores
Household chores can be more than just mundane tasks. These actions care for our homes and loved ones. They can provide steady anchors of activity and familiarity when life goes sideways. However, they can also take a toll on our bodies if we don’t approach them like they are a type of workout, like they are exercise.
With a few simple modifications, you can turn a few small chores into an effective and enjoyable workout! Here are five ways to transform your chores into core-building, calorie-burning activities. With these five easy tips, transforming mundane household chores into full-blown workouts can become second nature:
Make Cleaning a Cardio Session – Vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping are great exercises for your cardiovascular system. To get your heart rate up, try the “clean it two times” method: using the same cleaning tool (a vacuum or mop) twice in a row over each area of the house. This will help ensure that stubborn dirt and dust is completely eliminated while providing you with an invigorating workout.
Get Squatting – An excellent way to work on your lower body when doing household chores is to engage in some squats throughout the task. I already touched on this above when I discussed tubs and tummies. Additionally though, every time you reach for something on the floor, drop into a squat position keeping your head up – this will add extra resistance to your legs as you move around and help build strength. And don’t forget to keep good form by breathing out, keeping your core engaged, and driving strictly from the heels as you stand!
Utilize Upper Body Exercises – When cleaning windows or wiping down surfaces, incorporate upper body exercises such as bicep curls or shoulder presses while gripping the appropriate tool or sponge. You can also use heavier items like buckets of water to provide resistance while executing these movements, which will definitely help take your workout up a notch!
Include Isometric Holds – This means “freezing” a position, and it’s an excellent way to build strength without even moving around much at all! You can do an isometric hold during household chores by standing on your toes while wiping a window, holding a squat while folding laundry, or keeping your transverse tight for 15-30 seconds at a time while scrubbing dishes in the sink. Taking advantage of these home fitness moments with brief isometric holds is a surefire way to increase muscular endurance quickly and easily!
Outsource the chores that are bothering your body – This is truly my best tip. Ask someone else. Train someone else, like your kids. Mine have been unloading and loading since they were old enough to reach the silverware drawer. For a while, I re-organized my kitchen so they could put more stuff away at their level. It was a huge help! As teenagers, they are now proficient at ALL household chores… and now they like to remind me that I will miss their help when they’ve gone to college
Speaking of your core…
I have 4 more tummy tips for spreading the load while you’re moving around at home doing chores. The basics are in that little image above, but let me expand on them for clarity when it comes to your core strength. These will help you manage the pressure against your abs and pelvic floor to help fight Diastasis Recti and prolapse.
Stagger your stance. If you’re pushing your mop or moving your vacuum with your RIGHT hand, keep your LEFT leg forward in a staggered lunge stance. If your vacuum or mop is on your left, lunge your right foot forward to counter balance.
Breathe out through the whole push/pull motion. Breathe in when your vacuum or mop is close to your body. This may mean you slow down your motions. That’s perfectly fine, but if you need to hurry, try exhaling through several swipes at once. Spread that breath out and feel your core engage during the work. Inhale when you’re centered.
Stay tall and don’t hunch. If your mop handle or vacuum is so short that it makes you hunch over to use it, keep your eyes out for a taller handled version and invest in that for yourself because long, lifted torsos provide more space to spread out pressure in your abs.
And always balance the work between both sides of your body. When we exercise with resistance, like weightlifting, we do sets of 6-15 depending on our goals. It’s the same with chores. Do 10-12 reps on one side of your body, then switch sides.
Leave a comment!
Did ou decide what chore to hand off to the chore fairy? Have you enjoyed this “Cores & Chores” series? Got more tips to add? Leave a comment! We always love hearing from our fans and customers.
P.S. One of our cute little models is NOT lunging with the opposite foot. Turns out it’s hard to find images of people doing chores with good core form! Maybe you could send this article to the graphic designer in your life 😉