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Physical activity decline hurts women

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300"]English: Me Running English: Me Running (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

Women not performing housework or other physical activity

Looking around the gym I realized our forefathers would find the thought of hundreds of individuals riding a stationary bike or running on a treadmill absurd. Their lives of farming or ranching were engineered for physical activity.

Not anymore, according to a recent study completed by Dr. Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, women in the modern age are doing less physical activity through household chores, and the lack of movement is negatively affecting them.

"The premise of the study is that humans have engineered physical activity out of every domain of daily life ... from the workplace to the home ... but we are not suggesting that women should be doing more housework," said Dr. Edward Archer.

According to CNN, women have been spending less time doing work within the home and more time sitting at a desk in the office. Technology has also decreased the need for strenuous physical activity. We are no longer hunkered over a washboard or hanging clothes on a clothesline. Because of the sedentary nature of our jobs and the advent of technologies such as televisions and computers women are moving much less during the day.

Women must schedule physical activity into their days

What must be done to combat the sedentary nature of our lives? According to Archer everyone needs to allocate more time for physical activity. This will be necessary for both men and women. While a certain amount of exercise can be obtained by parking further away from the office or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, this may be insufficient to maintain an ideal weight and get the cardiovascular benefits needed to maintain a strong and healthy heart.

Dr. Edward Archer’s study used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and concluded that there has in fact been a shift even within the workforce from jobs that required constant movement and heavy lifting with jobs which now can be done from behind a desk. Combine that with out of control eating and lack of portion control and America has seen an increase in rates of obesity.

The study focused specifically on women and how their lives have shifted primarily from homemakers to workers in the workplace. As part of the study data was collected from an extraordinary archive of "time-use diaries." These diaries began in 1965 and listed how women spent their time throughout the day and how much physical activity they performed. Archer’s study then determined how many calories would have been used completing these tasks.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Edward Archer and his colleagues determined that the amount of time women now spend performing housework is down. According to the study, “women spent an average of 25.7 hours a week cleaning, cooking and doing laundry in 1965. In 2010, that number was down to 13.3 hours per week.”

Researchers also note that the biggest change is what women are doing in their free time. In 1965 women reported watching up to 8 hours of television per week. Women now, with the choice of television, IPads, Tablets, and personal computers now spend an average of 16.5 hours of their free time behind some type of screen.

In conclusion, researchers noted it was less about whether the washing dishes by hand expends much more energy than putting dishes in the dishwasher but more about how women spent their free time.

What do we need to do to combat the growing rate of inactivity? Get up and move more, do more physical activity and you will be less likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


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