Exercise In The Kitchen and Burn Calories

Burn More Calories In The Kitchen

Exercising isn’t something you do only at the gym. You can turn almost any activity into “stealth exercise” by increasing the intensity with which you do it. Even cooking a meal and cleaning up afterwards can be a calorie-burner.

Young attractive femaile in foreground with kitchen gloves on using spatuala as microphone pretending she is singing and dancing. Handsome man in background using broom as a guitar in pose trying to burn claories while cleaning

For example, did you know you burn over 3 calories for every minute you spend working in the kitchen, and you can blast away even more by picking up the pace? If you’re trying to get fit, there are ways to turn your time in the kitchen into a calorie-burning marathon. Here are tips for burning more calories while cooking a meal or cleaning the kitchen.

Get Ready to Burn Calories

Wiping down the surfaces of counters burns more than 200 calories an hour if you do it with enthusiasm. Before preparing a meal, grab a sponge, and give the counters a thorough scrubbing. Move your arms vigorously as you do. For inspiration, turn on some fast-paced music.

Now, get out the pots and pans. Before placing them on the stove top or in the oven, hold one in each hand and do a set of arm raises.

Skip the kitchen gadgets.

If you’re making mashed potatoes, mash them by hand. If you’re baking cookies, put away the mixer, and stir the dough the old-fashioned way, using muscle power.

For more calorie-burning points, bake bread from scratch. Not only will it taste better, but kneading the dough is a real calorie burner. Prepare vegetables fresh rather than using canned or frozen. You’ll burn more calories washing and chopping them then you will shaking them out of a bag.

Make the Kitchen Your Gym

While you’re waiting for water to boil, do a quick set of jumping jacks and deep knee bends. Don’t worry, no one will see you. They’ll just wonder why you’re looking more toned recently. You can even do modified push-ups by placing your hands on the edge of the kitchen counter and moving your upper body up and down.

develop strong muscles as you work in the kitchen - photo shows attactive female with kitchen gloves on flexing her bicep

Pick up the pace as you move through the kitchen taking things out of the refrigerator and putting things away. If you’re waiting for something to boil or set, turn up the music and dance while you wait. Use your downtime in the kitchen as an opportunity to move around.

Kitchen Dancing

One of the easiest ways to add some cardio to your cooking is to download a few dozen of your favorite motivating songs to the ipod or keep a CD player or radio in the kitchen. Music can be a great motivator to dance while you cook.

Slow ballads are a great start to a warm up, while favorite fast-dance tunes will make you want to do your favorite Lady Gaga routine while the pasta boils.

Clear some space in your kitchen, turn up the music and dance while you cook.

Dancing is one of the easiest and most individual forms of exercise and it can help burn off those stubborn pounds while you bake.

Attractive young femaing dancing in the Kitchen to exercise and burn off calories

Countertop Push Ups

Even the most out of shape cook can benefit from adding some countertop push ups to their daily routine. Whether you set a goal for doing as few as five everyday or work towards a more aggressive push up count, countertop push ups can be done anytime you are in the kitchen.

The first step is to position yourself about two feet from the countertop, with feet together. Extend your arms until they touch the edge of the kitchen countertop and slowly lean in. Once your chin is just above the countertop, use your arms to lift back up and repeat.

Stretch and Tone

The best way to stretch and tone in the kitchen is to make it a warm up exercise everytime you enter the kitchen to cook dinner. Start with basic warm up stretching moves like touching your toes a few times, reaching above your head, leaning sideways, and some basic head rolls.

Calf lifts can be done while you start dinner by simply lifting your heels off the floor, balancing on the ball of your feet. This simple move will help to tone and stretch your calves.

Set a goal for at least 10 in a row to start and add more as your legs begin to feel more toned.

Dishwasher Squats

Who would have thought that you could get some exercise done while loading and unloading the dishwasher? Dishwasher squats can be added by adding a squat for every item you load or unload from the dishwasher. When you reach for an item to unload, add a squat, slowly standing back up each time. It may take longer to load or unload the dishwasher but adding some basic squats can help tone.

Cleaning While You Cook Exercises

When the dinner is well started and you have some wait time, consider doing a few cleaning chores in the kitchen. Wiping down countertops, cleaning windows, wiping down the refrigerator, or organizing the cupboards can all be simple ways to add some exercise while you wait for dinner to cook.

For longer cooking times, you might consider pulling out the mop and bucket and washing the floor, or even doing a hand wash to get the kitchen floor extra clean.

All of these simple kitchen cleaning exercises can add up to better fitness, especially for those who are not used to more advanced exercises.

The Calorie-Burning Clean-Up

The clean-up after a meal gives you another chance to burn more calories. Pick up the pace as you put things back in the refrigerator and clear off the counters. Skip the dishwasher, and scrub the dishes by hand. Dishwashing burns 160 calories per hour.

Blonde woman doing the dishes and sweating do the energy she is putting into burning calories

Clean off the counters again to burn even more calories. While you’re at it, give the floors a scrub. If you do it on your hands and knees, you’ll burn a whopping 258 calories per hour. Those calories add up, and you get the reward of having a cleaner floor.

Don’t forget to take out the trash, but before you do, hold the trash can in each hand and raise it above your head as many times as you can. The heavier the can, the more you’ll tone your muscles and burn calories. If you have time, wash the windows in the kitchen, window washing burns around 250 calories per hour.

One of the best ways to workout for many people is to add some exercise to their day by making it an effortless part of their everyday routine. The kitchen can be one of the best places to add some basic exercise moves while cooking.

Even the most unmotivated person can add some fun and exercise to their time by adding a few of these moves while they bake, boil, and sautee.


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About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

54 thoughts on “Exercise In The Kitchen and Burn Calories”

  1. Love these tips! Incorporating exercises into kitchen chores is a good way to get both done easily. It can also be great if you blast your favorite music while doing so : ) No more boring exercises in my house!

    • I enjoyed reading this. I’m a firm believer in making the most of my time in the kitchen. With or without music. Altho’ music is preferred. I also love doing 3 sets of 15 – 20 diagonal push ups using the the counter, with bend overs and reach for the ceiling stretches. Its awesome!

  2. Cooking and exercise are both hobbies I really enjoy and get a lot of satisfaction from doing. But there is just something about doing both at the same time that is too weird for me to take seriously. I think personally I would feel like a fool doing these exercises, but I guess if you’re time poor and need to fit in a little extra workout then it could be beneficial.

    • Haha, yeah! I don’t know why, but cooking and exercising at the same time feels odd and maybe even dangerous, but I love the idea of exercising and cleaning, and having fun (with loud music!) at the same time. I do like to crank up the music when I’m doing dishes, and trying to speed through them should be fun (and save me some time)! On the other hand, I generally do my dishes right after I’ve eaten, so, maybe that might not be a good time to ‘exercise’…

  3. Exercising in the kitchen is great! Cooking and cleaning can already burn some extra callories, but put on some fun music and dance around a little while you do those boring chores and it becomes a fun way to burn some fat!

  4. I’m pretty bad at exercising but I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I think you have come up with a pretty good list here of exercises that can be done while in the kitchen. I’m definitely taking down notes.

    I think what I’m going to add for myself is a reminder to actually do the movements. I should probably put a note up, telling me to do this exercise while I’m doing this activity. I tend to be minimal in my movements, one of the reason that I have a hard time exercising. So, maybe a note attached to my dishwasher, saying “time for squats” or a list of exercises listed on a kitchen board while I’m cooking. I like ideas like this but I tend to forget them once I’m away from the computer. : )

    By, the way, I love the images attached to this article. They really caught my eye, and they give the article a really happy vibe.

  5. I like the idea of using old-fashioned cleaning as stealth exercise – that fits nicely with my attempt to try and reduce the amount of chemicals I use around the house as well as improving my fitness. I may try some of the more “proper” exercises next time I’m in the kitchen as well, as I’m struggling to lose baby weight at the moment and need all the help I can get. I did used to dance in the kitchen all the time, but I’ve got out of the habit of having music on while I’m cooking. Perhaps I should reinstate that; it might help keep the kids entertained as well (hopefully by joining in rather than just laughing at me!)

    But – maybe this is just me – anyone else think of Honey I Shrunk the Kids when they saw the dancing in the kitchen picture? I used to watch it all the time as a kid, can’t think of the character’s name now, but she was dancing with the mop when the cute guy next door went past the window.

  6. I know the intention behind this post is good, but I feel like some crucial things are being overlooked. First off there are plenty of dangers lurking around the kitchen. A little water boils over, it spills off the stove onto the ground, right were you are about to do some jumping jacks… How about those counter top push ups. Might seem like a good idea, but most kitchen counters these days are not installed correctly. A little push and you just bought yourself a new counter!

    Like I said, I know this was written with the best of intentions. However a simple disclaimer of caution can go a long way.

  7. I love multi tasking! Aside from cleaning the kitchen, you can have the time to actually sweat it out and do your body some favor with the stretching and squatting that you recommended. Thanks for putting up something like yhis. Although I must say, cleanig and doing this exercises wont make me feel that I am actually exercising, because is actually too much work on my kitchen. 🙂

  8. I never thought about working out while working in the kitchen. What a great idea! There’s so much wasted time, like when you’re waiting for water to boil or the microwave to ding. Why not use that time to do a few counter push-ups or dishwasher squats?

    My mother used to keep a little TV in her kitchen. I don’t think I need a TV, but I sure wish I had speakers for music now. I think there’s an old boombox in our garage I can get down. Boy, won’t my husband be surprised when he gets home tonight and finds me holding a private disco party in the kitchen. 😉

  9. My kitchen scares me for this type of stuff. I think it’s a lot to small. Perhaps when I get my dream kitchen I will remember these and put them into play. I really do need the exercise, but for now I’m thinking I’d better keep it to my living room

  10. Interesting post, and a little light hearted I feel.
    It can be quite dangerous jumping around the kitchen! I get my exercise cleaning the kitchen, and all the other rooms in the house.

  11. I’ve been trying to get in a little more exercise throughout the day and this sounds like a wonderful way to do it! I have all sorts of dance tracks on my Android phone that I use during my Zumba classes that are just perfect for bouncing around in the kitchen.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    • You’ve just reminded me about the Zumba dance classes…oh why did i trash those dvds?!…i greatly regret…i guess they work well incorporating them whilst working in the kitchen…i cannot believe i traded those dvds for insanity dvds…oh well, enough of my rants!…i’ll just have to figure out what music will mellow well while doing the dishwasher squats 🙂

  12. Awesome tips…laziness and procrastination has gotten me in a comfort zone for awhile, i just want to sit back, put my feet up and relax…not knowing am doing my own body a de-service, i kind of like the subtitle in the article on dishwasher squats…tell me to do something else and not that…but i must mellow my way somehow in to getting this body back to shape and fit…and save my pocket off the gym membership 🙂

  13. Thanks for the tips! I use a Fitbit to track my activity and number of steps I take, it’s amazing how all the little things we do add up over the course of a day. It’s hard to believe that I can burn 250 calories and hour washing windows. I know what I’ll be doing when the weather warms up a little bit!

  14. It can be hard to squeeze those workouts in, so incorporating it with your cleaning is a great idea. Some other things I like to do is grab some dumbbells while boiling the jug or heating something in the microwave. Also while cleaning listen to your favorite music and get into a good groove.

  15. These tips are great! I would be self-conscious though, my SO always wander in the kitchen to grab snacks and drinks. I’ve been known to dance while doing the dishes though, but that’s just because I cannot help it to the singing!

    I’ll have to try this though instead of just crashing on the couch when I have nothing else to actively do in the kitchen!

  16. I remember when I was losing weight I found a thing online that listed various activities and cooking and cleaning was in there. You could type how many minutes you spent doing it and it would show how many calories were burned, it was pretty cool. These tips are great! I try and super clean the kitchen when I really get into it and just do it fast and break out in a good sweat. At least then I know I am burning some calories.

    • That is so cool, WorkAtHomeGal. Thanks for sharing it. I’m going to have to look for that. Heck, there’s probably an app for the phone that does it too, these days.

      This article made me smile. The pictures are great too. I can just see myself now, dancing around the kitchen, doing squats and stretches.. hopefully, I don’t get tunnel vision and end up burning the dinner.

      I can also see my husband peeking in to see what’s for supper and laughing his butt off at me. haha

  17. This article has made housework seem like fun!

    I’m forever trying to incorporate more exercise/movement into my day. Sitting at a desk for hours during the day, I try to get up and move around regularly. Because I work at home, I try to fit the daily household chores into my working day too. So, plenty of opportunity to get some much needed exercise at the same time as doing the cleaning!

    Great tips – particularly the one about cleaning the floor on your hands and knees, burning so many calories!!

  18. I was so happy to stumble across this article as I do exactly the same myself. Sometimes, you can’t leave the kitchen and have to stand there, waiting for a pot to boil or for something to turn brown. I use this time to get a few squats done. Cleaning can also be a great workout if you play some music and put a little “oomph” into your actions. Taking exercise is actually a lot simpler than we think!

  19. Great post. Another thing you can do besides dancing in the kitchen, if you have a bit of free time, ditch the mop and scrub away with a rack! It isn’t as fun, but a really great arm workout, that will definetly get you sweating, I personally do that a few times everymonth, my arms turn into jelly for a few days after haha.

  20. Best post ever!! I am already a kitchen dancer, but the rest of these are perfect to add to my kitchen exercise routine. I am a SAHM, and having only one income makes affording a gym difficult. Can’t wait to do these!

  21. I think this is a great idea and you’ve come up with a great list here. However I’m not sure if it might cause a few problems in my kitchen if I started to exercise in it because its only really small and my kids are in and out of it all the time.

  22. I have used scrubbing the kitchen floor to get some exercise – it worked out ok. This is a good article on using things you do every day to burn more calories.

  23. yeah these are great tips. I think you forgot to mention one though. Every chef I’ve ever met has said to me “CLEAN WHILE YOU’RE COOKING!!” So yeah. Cleaning as you go not only reduces the mess but also is a good workout, as long as you don’t burn the food or something

  24. Haha! what a funny read. I think cooking can be a great stress reliever also, which will help with general well-being. When it comes to exercise though, I prefer to go to the gym, that way, you’re going somewhere for a specific reason and not just incorporating it into your daily activities. Kitchen exercise, however, could be a great way for someone to get started on their journey to health!

  25. Exercise and cooking come hand in hand! I usually rack up a sweat after cooking a three course meal and then having to wash the dishes and sweep the floors! Thank god for children. Haha, and they think they’re doing so much work by sweeping the floors. I definitely use a lot of muscle power trying to scrub stains and food off of pans and pots.

    • Children are best at the age where you can trick them Tom Sawyer style and convince them that work is “fun.” I’ve found that vacuuming is the easiest to do this with.

  26. Nice! Every physical work you do can be guaranteed to burn calories and melt away those pesky love-handles. Some are just more effective than others, but even mental exercises like doing your taxes can can the desired effect. If you want to up your game even more though, I agree with the article that squats are just about the best exercise under the sun. It doesn’t just strengthen your quads and hams, it has an overall effect on the stability of your core and consequently, your posture. Just don’t overdo them when you’re cooking in the kitchen. Wobbly legs can be very dangerous when near hot surfaces.

  27. You should see me in my kitchen, it’s like a full on show! I’m singing, dancing and thanking the crowd for their support! These are some great ideas, I love being in the kitchen and I spend so much time in there it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. I will definitely be stepping up my well choreographed routines and taking them up a gear. I might start stretching while I am in there too, thanks for an excellent and very entertaining post.

  28. I try to fit exercise in anywhere I can. Sometimes my time is limited so this is a perfect combination of two necessary things. I especially like the dishwasher squats. However, I’d likely do them while manually washing the dishes.

  29. This genuinely made me smile. Whenever I make banana bread, I usually use a mixer instead of a whisk. This is because my arms get tired within 30 seconds of mixing. I will definitely look into that. And I regularly did countertop push-ups before reading this!

  30. This article reminded me of something that happened a while ago. My mom wanted me to wash the dishes this time. I said yes and did it my way. I’ve put my headphones on, blasted some ol’ Ray Charles and started washing the dishes. I’ve obviously enjoyed the song too much and dropped some plates on the floor. Mom never realized and I still haven’t told her as of today!

  31. I think that there is a gap in the market for a book/app/DVD which gives you some dance or exercise moves to incorporate while cooking basic recipes. For example making a cake – first beat together the butter and sugar. Put some effort in. Bend those arms. Now do 5 squats before you add the eggs etc.

    This article has inspired me to attempt some of my favourite recipes including some exercises as suggested. My pots and pans are in an overhead cupboard so when I take them down I can do some arm lifts with them first. Who needs a gym when you can use your kitchen!

  32. Thank you for this great article! I spend so much time in the kitchen cooking for myself and my family but I have never thought of doing exercises while doing it. I have always wanted to get a gym membership but its so expensive so this is something that I will definitely benefit from. I’m going to start trying this out tomorrow!

    • It’s really quite easy to fit into the time you spend in the kitchen. Use times when you are standing about waiting for something to warm up or boil and just do what you can. It all adds up!

  33. I already dance around a bit when I’m cooking, and I’ll definitely be incorporating some of these other tips. There are a few moves that might be dangerous in my kitchen, but I’d just leave those out and compensate with a few more reps of the safer ones haha. Cleaning up with vigor is definitely good exercise.

  34. I find the idea of doing exercise in the kitchen quite interesting. It turns the kitchen into a more lively and fun place. I have been looking for ideas and ways to incorporate exercise into my routine. I think I am going to draw up an exercise chart and put it up in the kitchen.

    Cartoon pics will also make it more appealing. Finding time to exercise can be a problem with the busy lives we lead, so this may just be the solution I have been looking for!

  35. I can’t say I ever thought of using the kitchen for exercise. I already have a routine for some physical activity, but I might actually put some of these to use. It seems to me like your tips are a good way to stay limber and flexible and not tense up too much, which would definitely be a plus for me since I’m a weights kinda guy. Thanks for sharing~

  36. I like the idea of doing things while having fun but this thing only could work for women who want to burn a little more calories without having to go to gym and all that bother, for men it doesn’t make much difference because they need to work harder than that actually improve their health.

  37. As I was reading this it put a smile on my face. ” stealth exercise” is news to me. Since cleaning up the kitchen is one of my chores, I could see myself doing things like the calf lifts. I already listen to music as I clean so why not take it a step further and do a little dance?

  38. Yesterday I was racking off the apple and mint wines I made earlier in the year and I commented to my husband that it was as good as a workout in an expensive gym! Glass demijohn jars with almost a gallon of wine in them are heavy and taking them from the airing cupboard to the kitchen and back involves getting up on a step stool, lifting jars down from the top shelf, downstairs to the kitchen, run the wine from each old jar into a fresh jar, than back up to the airing cupboard! Exercise indeed, and it’ll be worth it in May or June when they’re ready to drink on a fine sunny evening in the garden.

  39. Wow, I love this! Such a fun idea. I love when I can workout while I don’t actually realize I’m working out…. It’s a great way to avoid having to dread going to the gym everyday. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Why have I not been doing this before? It can be a challenge to motivate yourself enough to go to the gym or set time aside for a workout routine. Incorporating exercising into something you do every day, like cooking, is an easy way to get your heart pumping. You’re already up and cooking, why not do a few squats or push ups while you wait for something to boil or reduce?

  41. This article made me giggle! However, we spend so much time in the kitchen, why not get some exercise out of it? I’m going to try these tonight. Hopefully the family doesn’t think I’ve gone crazy!

  42. I love the idea of stealth exercise 🙂 I’ve done a little bit of that by incorporating squats and lunges into my daily chores, but you’ve got a bunch of ideas here I never would have thought of! You don’t realize how many calories you can burn going about your regular day, and I can totally see how picking up the pace a bit really starts to add up.

    Plus, you’ll get a sparkling clean kitchen out of the deal 😛

  43. Wow, these tips are really good! I’ve never thought that cleaning up your house could burn some calories – now I’ll be more than happy to scrub my floors, haha! Dancing while your cooking can be a bit dangerous but I love that a lot! It’s so fun and makes cooking even more enjoyable. These kind of tips really make you want to lose some weight since we notice that it doesn’t always have to be hard and done with breaking a lot of sweat.


  44. Haha, this was a fun read! I have never even thought about combining exercising with cooking, but now it seems like a fun idea! Thank you for these suggestions, I’ll try them the next time I’m preparing a meal for the fanily. Sometimes it can be difficult to squeeze in a workout in your tight schedule, especially when you have to work and look after children. So this could really help you to keep fit without spending time to go for a run or to the gym!

  45. It makes sense that just doing basic tasks at a faster pace will burn more calories. I have no problem mashing potatoes by hand, but stirring cookie dough is a different story! I don’t know if I could make a whole batch without a mixer. These are such great ideas, I hate going to the gym, but I can definitely do dishwasher squats and counter push ups. I’m going to have the cleanest kitchen on the planet!!

  46. Yes! this is an amazing post! Sometimes there’s not much time to go to the gym, especially if you have people somehow depending on you, I actually had no idea that we burned that amount of calories just by being in the kitchen, but if you really think about it, it makes sense, that smashing potato thing? it should be considered an exercise!
    My favorite one is definitely the dance on the kitchen, I love music and what a better way of exercising than having fun dancing in the kitchen?

  47. Well whenever I am in the kitchen cooking a big meal, I do tend to get moving around a lot back and forth and throughout the house, and so that really does add up. That said, though, I really like some of the ideas here, and adding a little music for some inspiration to move a little more is a great idea, that I sometimes do. I did just get these new bluetooth speakers for the house that are perfect for this, so I might have to start implementing that a little more into my cooking routine. Thanks for sharing.

  48. Thank you a lot for the tips, I defintely will show this to my sister and see if she finally stops being too lazy, she’s always sleeping and playing with her laptop, she really needs these advice. Thank you for sharing this!

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