It's not quite as good as a gym workout, but it turns out a mop session at the house can burn off a ham sandwich.  And there are other household chores that are good for burning calories too.

The good news is mopping burns 405 calories and it's the highest calorie-burning household chore.  The bad news is we've got to do it for 138 minutes to get the max burn, and most of us don't have enough square footage to keep us busy that long. I can see how mopping would be great for the quads and core though, being slightly bent over and pushing like it's an Olympic curling match. It's easy to break a sweat.

Laundry burns 202 calories for the 71 minutes most of us spend doing it per day.  I wonder if that counts the time we spend sifting through fitted sheets and pillowcases in search of missing socks.  That might be worth an extra 10.

Taking care of kids burns a wad of calories too.  Just carrying small kids around for an average of 108 minutes per day burns 259 calories, according to a new study.  Changing diapers, lifting them in and out of a crib, giving them a bath, fiddling with car seats, and all of the little things can add up to 1,478 calories per day.  Wow!  Have that handful of chocolates, Mama.  You deserve it.

Since we have to do things around the house anyway, it's nice to know there are these little metabolic bonuses involved.  And there are ways to make the activities more intense so we burn even more calories.

Vacuuming burns 4 calories per minute.  Step into a full lunge each time you step forward for an extra quad workout.

Scrubbing countertops burns 4 calories per minute.  Scrub fast and stand on your tiptoes to engage your calf muscles and burn more.

Climbing stairs burns 6 calories per minute.  Carry a load like a laundry basket in front to build muscle, and skip a stair to make each step more like a lunge.

Making the bed burns 2 calories per minute.  Do a side lunge while you're tucking in the sheets to work your hips and quads.

If someone walks in while you're doing all of this and they have questions, the best answer might be "none ya."  It becomes their business when they are the ones doing the laundry and making the bed, right?  If they'd like to take over, we can certainly head to the gym and save them the head scratches.

Suddenly all of the tidying up we need to do before Thanksgiving doesn't seem so daunting.  If we do it well, we might be able to have that second piece of pecan pie and not feel bad about it.  Cool!  Now, where did we put that mop...