Can you get fit simply by doing  housework?

Robina 7 Day Doctors and Acupuncture recommends this article.

Doctors recommend that we should get at least 150 minutes of ‘moderate intensity physical activity’ every week to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity. But is there a way to reach this target of two and a half hours of exercise simply by doing the chores we have to do anyway?

Eight volunteers were recruited and  each of them to wore ‘activity monitors’ whilst they carry out a range of everyday household tasks.

  • Ironing
  • Dusting
  • Mopping
  • Vacuuming
  • Washing the car
  • Cleaning the windows
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Planting flowers

Results – Impressive!

The data from the monitors allowed us to work out how much physical work the volunteers were doing.

The adjusted the data from the activity monitors to account for each volunteer’s age, weight and physical fitness. On average, all except two of the everyday tasks counted as moderate intensity exercise! The graphs below show the results from the indoor, and outdoor activities. Ironing and dusting both scored below 3 METs but all of the others had a score higher than 3 and so count as moderate intensity exercise.

Our volunteers already spend an average of 37 minutes a week vacuuming and mopping and 72 minutes doing outdoor activities. So they’re already doing 109 of their 150 minutes of exercise without going near a gym!

There are tasks that we didn’t test which also count as moderate intensity exercise:

  • Walking briskly
  • Cycling
  • Carrying around a shopping basket instead of using a trolley

However, it’s important to remember that activities scoring less than 3 on the MET scale can still be beneficial. All types of physical activity are beneficial to our health, but we need to do the less intense activities for longer to get similar health benefits.

The research has also revealed that when you do your exercise can make a difference. Some of the health benefits from moderate activity are transient in nature and last 12-14 hours directly after the activity. So it makes sense to sprinkle the activities throughout the week rather them condensing them all into one big day at the weekend.

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