Is moving furniture a good workout?

Moving furniture is often seen as a necessary evil – a chore that needs to be done when redecorating or moving house, but not an activity anyone would choose to do for fun. However, research has shown that lugging sofas, beds, and bookshelves up and down stairs and across rooms can actually provide quite a good workout. Here’s an in-depth look at the physical benefits of moving furniture.

Calorie Burn

Moving furniture requires lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and holding – all activities that raise your heart rate and burn calories. The exact number of calories burned will depend on the weight of the furniture and the speed and duration of the moving. However, studies have produced the following estimates:

  • Lifting and carrying boxes and smaller items of furniture burns around 350-400 calories per hour.
  • Moving heavier furniture like couches, beds, and wardrobes burns around 400-450 calories per hour.
  • Carrying furniture up and down stairs burns approximately 600 calories per hour.

For comparison, that puts moving furniture on par with moderate intensity exercises like brisk walking or gentle cycling in terms of calorie burn. It’s an efficient way to burn calories without spending hours at the gym.

Muscle Building

Moving furniture doesn’t just burn fat – it also helps build muscle. Having to lift, push, and maneuver heavy objects works many of the major muscle groups in the body:

  • Legs and glutes: Lifting furniture engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles as you squat to pick items up.
  • Core: Keeping your back straight and core braced when moving furniture targets the abdominal muscles as well as the lower back.
  • Shoulders: Carrying heavy furniture uses the deltoids, trapezius, and surrounding shoulder muscles.
  • Arms: Your arm and grip strength get a workout whether you’re lifting boxes or pushing a sofa.

Adding these compound lifting motions into your regular routine can help to build stronger, more defined muscles all over your body.

Improved Strength

Moving large pieces of solid furniture like beds, cabinets and shelving units requires some serious strength. This helps boost your overall functional strength and endurance. With regular furniture moving sessions, you’re likely to see improvements in:

  • Grip strength
  • Arm and shoulder strength
  • Core strength
  • Leg and glute strength
  • Cardiovascular endurance

Increased functional strength will make you better equipped for other physical activities like sports, weightlifting, or carrying your grocery bags. It also helps with injury prevention and keeping your body mobile as you age.

Increased Stamina

Moving furniture is physically demanding work that gets your heart pumping and lungs working. Spending an hour or two moving boxes, lamps, chairs and other household items provides a sustained cardio workout that builds stamina. You can reap the following cardiovascular benefits:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved heart health
  • Increased lung capacity
  • Boosted circulation

If walking on a treadmill sounds boring, transporting furniture between rooms and up/down stairs can get your cardio workout done in a more functional, time-efficient way.

Weight Loss

Thanks to the combination of calorie burn, muscle building and cardio, moving furniture has been shown to aid weight loss. In one small study, 10 sedentary young adults burned an average of 413 calories per hour while moving boxes and furniture. Participants also saw minor reductions in body fat after the moving sessions.

While simply moving furniture won’t make you lose 10lbs in a day, it can help create the calorie deficit required for gradual fat loss and weight management when combined with a healthy diet. It also helps by building metabolism-boosting muscle.

Improved Posture and Mobility

Having to maneuver awkwardly shaped furniture in tight spaces requires good coordination, flexibility, and balance. With practice, this can lead to improvements in:

  • Posture
  • Mobility
  • Range of motion
  • Coordination
  • Balance

This helps counteract the effects of too much sitting and inactivity, keeping your body limber and functional for longer.

Mental Health Benefits

As well as physical perks, moving furniture has also been linked to mental health benefits including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased energy and mood
  • Improved sleep quality

The combination of cardio exercise and the sense of accomplishment from a completed task may help lift your mood and lower stress. Having a tidier, better organized living space after moving furniture can also enhance mental wellbeing.

Safety Considerations

While moving furniture can be great exercise, there are also some safety issues to keep in mind:

  • Warm up before and stretch after to avoid pulled muscles.
  • Use proper lifting techniques – bend at the knees, keep back straight.
  • Get help moving extremely heavy items to avoid injury.
  • Wear gloves to improve grip and avoid blisters.
  • Take breaks to avoid fatigue.
  • Stay hydrated – moving furniture causes you to sweat.

As long as you take the necessary precautions, a furniture moving workout can be done safely as well as effectively.

Is It an Effective Workout?

Research seems to suggest moving furniture can be an efficient, functional workout incorporating strength training, cardio, flexibility, endurance, and more. According to one 2012 study, “Moving can constitute an adequate workout and can be incorporated in training and weight loss programs”. Other key benefits include:

  • Burns up to 600 calories per hour
  • Builds muscle in the legs, arms, shoulders, core
  • Boosts strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • Enhances mobility, balance and coordination
  • Provides mental health benefits

While moving furniture shouldn’t completely replace other types of workouts, incorporating it into your routine 1-2 times per week can give you an effective, full body workout alongside the functional benefit of getting your living space organized.

Making It a More Effective Workout

If you want to maximize the workout benefits of moving house or rearranging your furniture, here are some useful tips:

  • Do it for at least 1 hour to get your heart rate elevated.
  • Lift and carry items manually instead of using trolleys.
  • Take heavier items like furniture up and down stairs.
  • Opt for pushing over dragging – it increases resistance.
  • Only take 1-2 trips between rooms instead of many.
  • Go slowly to avoid injury and work muscles more.
  • Minimize breaks to sustain heart rate elevation.

You can also make it more challenging by wearing a weighted vest, carrying weights in each hand, or getting help from a friend and bear-hugging large furniture items together.

Sample Furniture Moving Workout

Here is an example of how you could structure a furniture moving workout for maximum benefits:

Warm Up – 10 minutes

  • Walk around rooms lifting knees high and swinging arms
  • Bodyweight squats x 10
  • Push ups x 10
  • Plank x 30 seconds
  • Side reaches x 5 each side
  • Neck rolls

Workout – 45-60 minutes

  • Lift and carry boxes of books and small items up/down stairs x 5 minutes
  • Move armchairs from one room to another x 5 minutes
  • Push bed from bedroom into new position x 5 minutes
  • Lift and move coffee table x 5 minutes
  • Carry nightstands upstairs x 5 minutes
  • Move TV stand with TV into new room x 5 minutes
  • Lift and carry dining chairs to new dining room x 5 minutes
  • Move sofa into final position with partner x 5 minutes

Cooldown – 5-10 minutes

  • Slow march on the spot lifting knees
  • Hamstring stretches x 30 seconds each leg
  • Quad stretches x 30 seconds each leg
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Neck stretches

This gives you a full body workout focused on the major muscles involved in moving. Adjust the times and exercises based on the furniture you need to move.

Incorporating Other Exercise

While moving furniture provides a decent workout on its own, you can make your routine even more comprehensive by adding other exercises between furniture moving sets. Try incorporating moves like:

  • Planks
  • Push ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Sit ups
  • Burpees
  • Resistance band rows

This will work your upper body, lower body, and core even more for maximum fitness benefits.

Should You Move Furniture for Exercise?

Moving furniture may not be most people’s idea of a good time, but the evidence shows it can be an effective way to exercise multiple muscle groups while getting your living space organized. While taking the proper safety precautions, strategic furniture moving provides comparable benefits to gym workouts in terms of:

  • Calorie burn – up to 600 calories per hour
  • Muscle building – works all major muscle groups
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Functional strength
  • Mobility and balance

Incorporating furniture moving sessions 1-2 times per week can form part of a balanced workout routine for improved overall fitness and health.

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