Is Housework Exercise? Review of The Stepford Wives and Clairobics


How do you like housework? And remakes? And exercise?
Might as well kill all those birds with one stone, right?

So, this week’s question is, “Can housework be a workout?”

The Stepford Wives think it’s the only workout. And they’ve given it a name: Clairobics.

Does Housework Count as Exercise? Workout like a Stepford Wife!

Does Housework Count as Exercise? Workout like a Stepford Wife!
Screenshot: The Stepford Wives (2/8) Movie CLIP – Clairobics (2004) HD (Movieclips)

(STEPFORD WIVES RECAP: For those who aren’t familiar, married women who moved to Stepford would change overnight a few months after arriving, becoming creepily over-smiley and submissive, conformist and housework-obsessed, among other things).

Find The Stepford Wives on Google Play, Netflix, Amazon UK, or YouTube.

So in the spirit of good research, I watched both versions the other night to compare them – yay! πŸ™‚

Nanette Newman was the original Stepford Wife. Here she is, malfunctioning, with my favourite line from the original 1975 movie:

Nanette Newman in ‘The Stepford Wives’ (1975) via thebritisharecumming on YouTube

She spent years advertising soap and washing up liquid in the UK on the back of this (see below):

Fairy Liquid TV advert, via Nina Perez on YouTube

“Now hands that do dishes can be soft as your face”

See? Housework made you attractive, even in the 1970s and 80s πŸ˜‰
Enter Clairobics, the housework workout from the 2004 Stepford Wives remake:

“Time to slim and scrub: Let’s all be washing machines!”

Clairobics at the Simply Stepford Day Spa, (‘The Stepford Wives’ 2004 remake) via Movieclips on YouTube

Obviously, we have to do this workout in dresses and heels, with permanent smiles, because imagine if our husbands saw us looking all messed up and sweaty…

I’ve got mixed feelings about the remake, but Clairobics is a definite highlight.


So how much exercise can you get from housework?

In ‘Go Grab a Broom’, Apartment Therapy had some good tips for getting the most effective fitness results from your housework.

Vacuuming and sweeping can burn 240 calories per hour, scrubbing floors can burn 325, and so on.

It can, in theory, be as good as the gym, with the interesting condition being that housework works better as exercise if that’s how you think about it.

In a study of hotel chambermaids, those who were taught about the calories burned by their cleaning work and the muscle groups being exercised found better fitness results.

Weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index all improved.

We need to do our housework with attitude.  Like Freddie Mercury.

We need to do our housework with attitude. Like Freddie Mercury.
(Queen: ‘I Want to Break Free‘)
Find ‘I Want to Break Free’: Original, Remastered and Karaoke versions here!

In ‘Turn Housework into a Workout‘, from Weight Loss Resources UK, dietitian Juliette Kellow claims that many of us find cleaning mentally therapeutic, 40 % are addicted to it, and on average we spend about 2.5 hours a day doing it.

What on earth is wrong with you people??

For those of us who aren’t cleanaholics:

Here are some tips for exercising with housework

(No, I’d rather not do them either, but hey-ho, might as well kill two birds with one stone!)

  1. Plan your housework less efficiently, so you keep running up and down the stairs
  2. Polish your furniture harder (or at all, if you’re me) by using wax polish
  3. Keep your laundry baskets on the floor so you do more bending and stretching
  4. Think of housework as a workout, and notice the muscle groups being exercised
  5. Finally, more of a fun tip, clean along with your favourite high energy music.

Weightwatchers is also in favour of working out with housework, adding my favourite tip of all: doing squats while you microwave things! (Weightwatchers ready meals, presumably πŸ˜‰


Housework Music

Nothing springs to mind for housework music? Here are some albums and playlists:


But is housework enough exercise?

Unfortunately it’s not enough to get us off the exercise hook. A University of Ulster study found that we overestimate the exercise we get from housework, according to ‘Does Housework Count As Exercise‘, in Live Science.

While it’s worth building physical activity into our everyday lives, they emphasise the importance of deliberate exercise as well, as sports like running and cycling burn calories more quickly.

Women’s Health Magazine also points out that housework involves more snacking temptations.

It doesn’t give me high hopes for ‘Clairobics’, especially as it’s a no-sweat, high heels type workout – can’t let our men catch us looking messy!

Still, those of us who are somehow not addicted to cleaning might as well put these exercise-by-housework tips into action – it all has to be done after all, so it might as well be part of our fitness regime!

Time to Scrub and Slim with Clairobics: Work out like a Stepford Wife!

Time to Scrub and Slim with Clairobics: Work out like a Stepford Wife!

It reminds me of how eating out less is also healthier and helps to save money: just do everything right all the time, and everything will be fine…. πŸ˜‰
Freddie Mercury: He wouldn't stand for all this Stepford Wives housework malarkey

Freddie makes it OK though

And speaking of getting everything right all the time:

How do the two versions of ‘The Stepford Wives’ compare?

(Skip the rest of this if you haven’t seen either film and don’t want spoilers!)

I’ve been a fan of the original movie for years: it’s classic science fiction / horror as well as a classic of 1970s feminism.

And it still is.

I’m a big fan of Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick, but I don’t see why anyone had to remake this. Especially when, apart from the little gems like Clairobics and some humour with the new gay and explicitly Jewish characters, the remake isn’t as good as the original (where have we seen that before!).

Just to show the contrast, here’s the trailer for the original 1975 classic:

Original 1975 Stepford Wives Trailer, via Passion4Horror on YouTube

And here’s the trailer for the 2004 remake:

‘The Stepford Wives’ (2004) trailer, Paramount Movies on YouTube

It’s not that the remake is a terrible film – I’ve seen a lot worse, and it’s very funny at times. But I do have some major issues with it:

  1. The new ending doesn’t make sense. Are the Stepford Wives robots, as in the original, or do they have 4 chips implanted in their heads whose programming can be reversed? Make up your mind!

    Although it’s always nice to see Matthew Broderick hacking into remote systems and causing mayhem (hello Wargames πŸ™‚ ), earlier on in the remake we saw a Stepford Wife malfunctioning and sparking, and we also saw a half made dummy ready to become another Stepford wife-replacement.

    This just doesn’t make sense with the chips-in-the-brain ending.

  2. The remake starts off with the main character winning awards for some pretty stupid sounding exaggerated reality TV shows that pit men against women so ridiculously meanly it would give anti-feminists a field day.
  3. The remake ends with a man saving the day, and it all being a woman’s fault, because women want romance. And not just any woman, but Glenn Close, the original bunny boiler from ‘Fatal Attraction’.

    Way to turn a feminist classic into part of the backlash!

I had to wonder if ‘Glenn Close and Feminism’ is a popular topic in Women’s Studies these days. So I looked, and I found an interesting interview with Glenn Close by Decca Aitkenhead of The Guardian, where she says this,


‘I think for a woman it’s always a very, very tricky position to know how to maintain your power in a world that’s mostly dominated by men’

Glenn Close, in ‘The Guardian’, 2009

LOL – true, and very appropriate, but I don’t think this is the the way!
(Sadly, she’s talking about ‘Damages’, not the Stepford Wives remake, which she doesn’t seem to mention for some reason πŸ˜‰ Still… )

This post is dedicated to two of my favourite former blogging buddies, Hope from The Mom Chronicle and Meagan from The Lone Star Blogger, who would (I hope!) enjoy The Stepford Wives πŸ˜‰

“I Want to Break Free” by Queen, via Queen Official on YouTube
Find ‘I Want to Break Free’: Original, Remastered and Karaoke versions here



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Clairobics Review: Housework workouts and The Stepford Wives


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55 Responses to Is Housework Exercise? Review of The Stepford Wives and Clairobics

  1. Comments should be here
  2. oh I loved that original movie!! I’m not sure anyone loves housework do they? But my new dyson hoover is a bit of a workout as it has such good suction its hard to push lol!

  3. I went to the gym last night and cleaned after…the cleaning was so tough after working out! I did a lot of bending and walking around. Though it didn’t compare to my actual workout, my legs were feeling it much more when I got in bed at the end of the night than they were right after my workout!

  4. I love Stedford Wives!

  5. this was a great read! I enjoyed the movie myself. Too bad housework doesn’t count for more exercise! πŸ™‚

  6. Great post. What a way to make it fun by incorporating the Stepford Wives. I loved that movie.

  7. I loved your post. I knew someone who felt her weekly trip to the grocery store was enough exercise for the week. I wont comment on what was in her cart. HA

  8. I love doing squats while I vacuum -is that weird? Haha. I’m definitely no stepford wife but I totally break out in a sweat with some deep cleaning!

  9. Nice post. I think I’m going to begin looking at housework as exercise. Maybe I’ll get through it quicker!

  10. I love the idea that housekeeping can be considered a valid form of exercise! Here I am going to the gym four days a week when all I really need to do is pick up a broom, a dust cloth, or a vacuum, turn on some music and get sassy. Just put some real attitude into it. Deep knee bends, bending over picking things up, etc. Great article! And good food for thought…

  11. Man, I sure do feel like I have worked out after I clean the house! It’s no wonder! That is a lot of calories burned! Good to know!

  12. Yes, yes it is! Thanks for the giggle! Loved that movie!

  13. I loved the movies and I love your stepford wives aerobics. πŸ™‚

  14. Pretty funny. I’ve never really thought about housework as exercise, but I don’t do as much as I should anyways. My back does hurt doing dishes…does that count?

  15. I can never do housework unless am blasting my favorite work-out music. It’s the only way.

  16. I think the closest I come is to slip and slide on a couple of towels to dry the floor.

  17. After 32 years of marriage, I’ve got this figured out. I let my husband clean the house and I go swim laps at the gym!

  18. I think housework is exercise! I love the idea of Clairobics πŸ™‚ I haven’t watched either movies but I might need to plan a girls night in and check it out!

  19. I am constantly scrubbing my toilet. I wonder how many calories that burns? Lol

  20. This is amazing! I love the workout playlist!!

  21. Love this post! I am interested to see how many calories total I would burn for an entire day of cleaning. I just spent the last two hours cleaning a playroom. I’d say that should be worth at least 700 calories. However, I am currently eating pretzels and chocolate chips…so I just ate probably 1000 calories. πŸ™

  22. I saw the first movie when I was a little girl and have remained horrified by it. As for housework as exercise, what about stepping over the mess? Is that exercise? What about my efforts to ignore it? Could that be considered exercise? πŸ˜‰

  23. I never knew there was an original throwback “Stepford wives” —I totally count housework as exercise. I am moving and burning off calories.

  24. I’ve never watched these shows but this is hilarious! i should should house cleaning as a workout!!!

  25. Lol Funny take on a dreadful must-do.

  26. BAHAHAHA I’m dying. This is hilarious (and informative!)

  27. I definitely agree housework is some form of exercise! I wouldn’t consider it my workout of the day but I still think you burn calories from it!!!

  28. I really don’t like housework, but you may have convinced me to stop being such a grump about it πŸ™‚

  29. Haha. I guess since I DO hit the gym every day I never would have thought to count it as exercise- just time that I’m not sitting on my ass, which is better for me than the times that I AM sitting on my ass.

  30. Totally believe it! I think I lost ten pounds from scrubbing and painting my new kitchen.

  31. I seem to find more fervor in my housecleaning when I have a new vacuum. My house is spotless for the first couple weeks. Then, I go back to not being very good at it. I did not realize there was an original “stepford wives.” I am intrigued. πŸ™‚

    • Makes sense, although it could become an expensive habit! The original film is better in many ways but also very 1970s – shows a lot how times have changed

  32. It is unfortunate that housework is not all of the exercise we need but it is better than nothing! Sometimes it can be difficult to balance all that we need AND add in adequate exercise for ourselves.

  33. I must admit, we have a house cleaner that comes to clean every other week. I also pay for a gym membership. Who knew that I could get a serious workout with lots of calorie burning for free? Haha

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