Would you believe that our timesaving washers, dryers, dishwashers, and electric can-openers could be making us fat? Researchers at the Mayo Clinic wanted to determine whether the reduction in elbow grease because of electric appliances is widening our waistlines. So, they compared today’s chores with how they were done in the 1920s. On average, modern appliances cut the amount of calories we burn doing any given chore in half. For example, your great-grandparents burned two calories a minute doing laundry, dishes, and yard work, which is twice as many calories as we burn doing those same chores today. And when the researchers did the math, they discovered that mechanization saves us 111 calories a day – which adds up to more than 11 pounds in a year!

Of course, no one’s suggesting that you run out and buy a washboard and a rug beater. But if you skip the dryer and hang your clothes on a clothesline, you’ll burn 60 extra calories. And you can make up for time-savers like your automatic garage door opener and self-propelled vacuum cleaner by walking 30 minutes most days.

Experts say the average person in the 1920s wore out three times more shoe leather than we do today. So, try this: substitute 30 minutes of walking for half an hour of TV and, instead of gaining 11 pounds in the next year, you could lose three!