We've come a long way baby. But not in that sexy feminist way of those Virginia Slims cigarette commercials. What I mean is just 60 years ago, we as a culture weren't in an exercise-crazed mindset. Many communities were small towns where walking to the store was norm. Kids played outside on the street before dinner. We did more things around the house, probably on a daily basis, and TV, online shopping and desktop dining were not part of the game.
Many people have talked about burning calories while cleaning or making cleaning into an exercise regime. I recently read a post suggesting to incorporate "dirty dish dips," "back yard twists" and "squeaky clean squats." If that's your thing, as Nike proposes, just do it. If it works, more power to you, but I find it would be utterly depressing.
Our bodies don't need to be challenged while doing housework. I'm more wiped out after cleaning my house than two hours of hard-core yoga. Housework is so physical that no one needs to put an extra punch in the vacuum or mop like a crazy woman. You will only exhaust yourself and feel like a true slave.
I suggest cleaning remain as cleaning. You will burn calories regardless. The reason cleaning shouldn't be disguised as something else is that cleaning is a part of life. In a weird way, if we're lucky, we get to clean on a daily basis. In India and Mexico, where I've lived, the housewives, or the family "girl" or "maid," sweep and mop the floors each morning. In our socio-economic world most don't have access to this type of labor. Mopping in the morning is impossible if one is a working mom. Stay-at-home moms have it no better with different approaches to childrearing and all the responsibilities of a modern life. However, if we approach cleaning as a way to create a beautiful space in which to breath, relax, and honor ourselves and our love ones, the job won't feel so much as work, but as giving. We can clean with an accepting mindset instead of a resisting one.
If you disguise cleaning as exercise, fine, but remember exercise is more sustainable if one is outside or doing something they truly enjoy with the body. Exercise is not only moving the body but also feeling the body stretch, sweat and feel good while generating endorphins, even better if we exercise with others. Approaching cleaning with a different appreciation and understanding of the job at hand, helps us enjoy it for different (higher?) purposes.
Let's not dump too many intentions onto cleaning or onto exercise; it's just confusing. Keep them separate. Do these activities with separate intentions and let habits form. Creating good habits from things we enjoy is how we remain happy and healthy. But even better, it serves as a good example for our kids.