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Doing housework is not enough to stay physically fit

According to a new study, housework as your primary form of physical exercise may not be enough to maintain heart health. In fact, according to a research recently published in the journal BMC Public Health, researchers have found that people who counted housework as part of their time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity “tended to weigh more than those who spent the same amount of time doing other forms of exercise.”


Who did the research?


The research team consisted of several scientists from the University of Ulster who looked at activity levels among 4,563 adults in Northern Ireland. Participants were questioned about whether or not they met the recommended 150 minutes in moderate to vigorous physical activity a week.

Of those asked 42.7% of the population claimed to meet or exceed these guidelines. According to the research, “In this group domestic physical activity accounted for between 11% and 73% of their reported moderate to vigorous physical activity, and the proportion was higher among women (34.9%) than men (19.8%).”

But what if you excluded the domestic activities? The percentage of participants who would have continued to meet the recommendations for physical activity would have been reduced to just 20.4%. The results were mirrored in other studies in Scotland and Australia.

So what does the study tell us about housework?


Unfortunately, researchers found that although common sense would tell you that housework should increase the amount of calories expended and should therefore contribute to the propensity to be thin, the amount of housework reported by the participants actually had an inverse relationship to leanness.

What does this mean? Researchers are not quite sure, but they believe either people are overestimating the amount of moderate intensity physical activity they do through housework or they compensate for housework and the energy expended by eating additional calories.

But what is the most important take away for many people? Researchers want people to know that although performing housework is better than sitting in a chair and eating Cheetos, it may not be intense enough to contribute to real physical health. It also means that other more intense activities should be done each week.

What else should you be doing besides housework?


Reports suggest most of us overestimate the amount of physical activity we do and underestimate how much food we eat. Although housework is exercise, it may not be intense enough to make you breathe harder, feel warmer and make your heart beat faster than usual, and this type of exertion is what is needed to improve your heart’s health.

What do you do if 150 minutes seems like too much? Start out small. Break up the time into three or four 10 minute chunks every day. Why not run up the stairs or take a brisk walk? Make a resolution to do something every day. Put it on your calendar and don’t give yourself a reason to skip it. Join the gym with a friend or sign up for a race.

Just don’t think that standing in front of the sink and putting dishes in the dishwasher is enough to get the job done- it’s not.
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