Moving House: The Ultimate Workout

So many stairs…

On Saturday, we moved. Not far. Just one mile up the road. After years of bragging about how minimalist we are, I was humbled and overwhelmed by how much stuff we actually seem to own. The “easy” move I envisioned was a long, hard day of trips back and forth. I even had to shoo some people away from my hat collection that I temporarily left on the street to load some boxes into an Uber! Seriously, it was unattended for approximately 12 seconds before people started rummaging through my stuff. Anyway, we are in the new house now and it is starting to feel a little more like home.

Our move was perhaps made exponentially harder given that our previous flat was on the third floor of a building with no elevator. 58 steps up and down with every load. Add some heavy boxes and a few pieces of furniture over the course of 8 hours and we were exhausted. Graham’s watch tracked how many flights of stairs we climbed on Saturday. Take a guess.

100!!! We climbed 100 flights of stairs! No wonder I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I haven’t felt like that in a while. It was better than any workout I’ve done lately.

Moving works a ton of muscles. It truly is a full-body workout. Here’s the breakdown of the muscles you use in an average move:

Quads and Hamstrings: Your legs are the strongest part of your body and they are what propel you up and down the stairs. Hamstrings are also critical while lifting, especially critical for carrying oak shoe cabinets down 58 steps. That was one of the tougher things I’ve done lately. Thankfully, I do a lot of squats so I was well prepared.

Shoulders: Anytime you have to lift something over your head, your shoulders are getting a workout. Taking things off shelves, or putting them back up where they belong over the course of many hours gives your shoulders a workout, even if the items don’t carry a lot of weight.

Back: Ugh. My back. This was the part of me that hurt the most. Lifting and carrying heavy boxes does a number on your back, and if you’re not careful with your lifting technique, you can really hurt yourself. The key is to bend your knees when lifting, taking most of the strain through your legs, which are more powerful. The heaver the load, the more strain in the back and abdominals.

Hands and Wrists: This isn’t a muscle you think too much about, but when you move, your hand and wrist muscles take a beating! Gripping heavy things without dropping them coupled with repetitive motions can put a lot of strain on your hands. The muscles in my forearms were also killing me from carrying boxes all day. Thankfully, the pain subsided by the next day. Probably because I made Graham carry the heaviest things!

Arms: Pushing and pulling furniture and boxes is a great workout for your triceps and biceps. Anytime you move house, your arm muscles play a key role.

According to this article, carrying boxes and moving furniture burns 7 calories per minute. That’s 420 calories per hour. And if the boxes are heavy (which they were), you get a great strength workout too. So in case you are wondering, I did not go for a run in the new neighbourhood on Sunday. Maybe tomorrow.


Always be yourself. Unless you can be a mermaid. Then always be a mermaid. And on Halloween, be a dead mermaid.

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