When does housework and gardening become exercise?

When assessing food diaries, quite often I will see (in the exercise box) the words Housework or gardening, closely followed by some sort of disclaimer like "2 hours worth!!!!!" or "all day long" or "I was sweating". 

Those little disclaimer words tell me that you don't quite believe it's exercise, but you're going to give it a good go at justifying it.

So, is gardening and housework exercise? My answer is, not unless you are VERY sedentary. 

If pushing a vacuum cleaner around makes you puff at the same amount as you would power walking or jogging and you are doing it non-stop for at least 45 minutes and you are very overweight then yes housework might be considered exercise. But for most of us, really - how hard is housework?...

Let's be brutally honest here.  A baseline human being should be able to walk around the block without puffing.  It is also daily movement to walk from the car to the supermarket or to check the mail.  This is NORMAL stuff and while incidental movement like this is very important to the overall functioning of the body and weight maintenance you have to understand that this is the basic function of a human being.  You have a responsibility the grand designer of the human body to just do these things.

As for getting 'fitter' you would eventually have to be running with the vacuum to progressively grow your fitness and for strength try squatting up and down 15 times before planting that shrub then sprint to the other side of the garden to grab the next one.... now we're exercising.

But what happens when our whole job is housekeeping or gardening or building?  If you find that you are gaining weight or losing fitness, then it has to be accepted that this is NOT enough exercise.  It's a hard concept to grasp, but we have to suck it up and accept it.  Of course we can alter our food intake in lieu of exercise, but at some point we find ourselves biting that exercise bullet and just getting stuck in to achieve our chosen goal. If you currently run/swim/gym etc to lose weight then you can't really call housework or gardening as an exercise session.  How would you feel if I demonstrated 5 press ups to you and then told you that was my upper body workout for the week.  You'd roll your eyes wouldn't you.

Extra bonus movement, like gardening and housework etc are good things to do, keep doing them, but don't call it exercise.  It is simply known as - daily human movement.

Per hour a basic jog with slight puffing will burn around 600 cals, hill sprints can knock off around 1000 cals while vacuuming will burn a mere 228.  So you could do 20mins of hill sprints and burn more calories than 1 hour of housework.  I don't know about you, but there's too much to do to spend all day exercising and doing housework - I tend to aim for minimum time, maximum result on both counts.