Housework 'not strenuous enough' for exercise targets

 
Woman contemplating housework

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Housework and DIY are not strenuous enough to count towards people's activity targets, a paper has found.

It had been thought they could count towards the recommended 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week.

But the BMC Public Health study, which surveyed over 4,500 adults, found those who counted housework were heavier than those who did other activities.

Experts said activities only counted when they made breathing more rapid and the heart beat faster.

NHS recommendations do say housework does not count towards the 150-minute goal.

But the researchers in this paper say there has been a move towards promoting a "lifestyle approach" to physical activity - encouraging "domestic" activities in people who may not take part in sports or go to the gym.

And they warn that, while any activity is better than none, people should be aware that they still need to meet the moderate activity target on top.

Eating too much?

Participants completed a detailed interview about their activity levels, whether they played any sports or did formal exercise as well as their diet and smoking and drinking habits.

They were particularly asked about activity linked to looking after their homes.

Start Quote

Your exercise should make you breathe harder, feel warmer, and make your heart beat faster than usual. ”

End Quote Chris Allen, British Heart Foundation

Domestic housework in 10 minute bursts or more accounted for 36% of the reported moderate to vigorous physical activity people said they did.

But when weight and height were taken into account, researchers found that those who counted housework as exercise were heavier than people doing other exercise for the same amount of time.

Among women, just a fifth reached the weekly exercise target if housework was discounted.

The research team, which included experts from the Universities of Ulster, Sheffield Hallam and Wolverhampton as well as Sport Northern Ireland concluded: "Domestic physical activity accounts for a significant proportion of self-reported daily moderate to vigorous physical activity particularly among females and older adults.

"However such activity is negatively associated with leanness, suggesting that such activity may not be sufficient to provide all of the benefits normally associated with meeting the physical activity guidelines."

Eating too much?

Prof Marie Murphy, from the University of Ulster, who led the study, said: "Housework is physical activity and any physical activity should theoretically increase the amount of calories expended.

"But we found that housework was inversely related to leanness, which suggests that either people are overestimating the amount of moderate intensity physical activity they do through housework, or are eating too much to compensate for the amount of activity undertaken."

She added: "When talking to people about the amount of physical activity they need to stay healthy, it needs to be made clear that housework may not be intense enough to contribute to the weekly target and that other more intense activities also need to be included each week."

Chris Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Your exercise should make you breathe harder, feel warmer, and make your heart beat faster than usual.

"So, unless your household chores tick all these boxes, they won't count.

"If you're daunted by the prospect of a 150-minute target, think of it in 10-minute chunks.

"It doesn't necessarily mean forking out for a gym membership either - try a brisk walk on your lunch break or make a resolution to take the stairs rather than the lift each morning."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 244.

    See BBC programme " Trust me I'm a doctor" on leanness and fitness

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 243.

    Which is the heaviest fat or muscle?
    Muscle is denser than fat, so two persons of the same build, the one who works hard will be the heaviest. (That is also what this report implies).

    Among women, just a fifth reached the weekly exercise target if housework was discounted.

    But a fifth ARE reaching the target and some exercise is better than non.... again in the report.

    BMC - money for nothing!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 242.

    Today I carried out a survey and 100% of the persons I asked suggested that this article is a waste of time effort and money.

    Perhaps it would have been better to ask other people than myself but that would be a waste of my time effort and money wouldn't it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 241.

    This person gets more on the dole than I can working honestly Its a real walking talking garbage can Im ashamed to so have to say this but i t is that disgusting that Im ashamed to be british Its and insult to my own nation It wants a good bath a lesson in personal hygene and if you want the truth not that this person is a bad person but it does need a good kick up the jacksi !! El pronto

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 240.

    I also do my own house work I’m fairly fit slim and I also know that this is hard work I wash my clothes by hand dishes by hand i don’t have a washing machine , dishwasher I do all the garden by myself I share a flat with a lazy bum who’s a total slob unemployed I work more than 12 hours 7 days a week £30.00 a day whilst this person sits on their bum getting fat & does nothing

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 239.

    Rebecca Rot @42 "I dusted the other day but had to sit down after 5 minutes with a painful cramp in my fingers".

    I think your problem is that you didn't warm up properly before you started.

    As for being a "bit of a fatty", swap the chocolate bars for an apple.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 238.

    What a nonsense. 'Exercise has to hurt otherwise it is not doing you any good' Give us a break from those who trumpet hair-shirts as the only way to go through life. Do enough to raise your heart rate a bit, do enough to get warm and it will do you good.
    Get miserable about the 100gms you put on yesterday and you will not live as long.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 237.

    Cameron pledges increased home workloads in 2015 manifesto.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 236.

    @230.rajagra
    Why are they using weight to measure the effectiveness of activity

    Its quite big sample which is good but they had to use self -reporting to get the data which limits its accuracy & sophistication. The conclusion merely SUGGESTS that such activity MAY NOT be sufficient to meet guidlines

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 235.

    relax, chill out, watch telly, eat sweets and junk food, drink and smoke, seems to be how we live.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 234.

    People in this country are so lazy.

    Moving is not exercise. Exercise should make your heart thump, make you sweat and make you breath heavily.

    I have no idea why some people spend their whole lives avoiding exercise. Its good for you and makes you look and feel healthy. Sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins for a reason. It will kill you.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 233.

    12.GasheadGooner

    It's so simple Use this equation

    except your equation was wrong, its didn't account for metabolic rate
    Base metabolic rate approximates to 10xweight+6.25xheight–5xage+S where s = 5 for men or -161 for women
    you then need to multiply that by activity level varying from 1.2 -virtually no exercise to 1.9 -lots of exercise
    gives the number of calories to maintain the same weight

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 232.

    There was a TV programme on last night that showed that standing up instead of sitting on a chair at work was exercise & burnt calories.

    Could always strap a few weights on or carry a kid under each arm to make it more strenuous

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 231.

    If they'd seen my wife doing housework they'd never have reached that conclusion. It depends on who's doing the housework and the way they do it - so it's a pretty worthless study. Which leads me to ask: who commissioned it, and who paid for it? If any public money went towards such pseudo-science it's a disgrace.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 230.

    Why are they using weight to measure the effectiveness of activity aimed at boosting fitness (cardiovascular performance)?
    1) Weight is determined primarily by eating habits. Exercise alone can't work for weight loss - it is trivially easy to out-eat whatever exercise you do.
    2) Some exercise causes muscle growth - which is heavier than fat - and healthy!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 229.

    House work helps but you need to do other things.
    Have a brisk walk most days and go for a swim and/or cycle every week.
    You also need to do some resistance exercise to tone up and strengthen bones. This is particularly important for women.
    Two short sessions at home using light dumbells or an exercise band is ideal.
    Build up your exercise slowly.
    No need to join a gym
    Alan

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 228.

    See, when a man says "iron my shirt" he's only being helpful. It's 5 minutes towards your quota.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 227.

    Looks like all these moaning housewives have been found out now!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 226.

    Dont ya just love those who say "we should be doing more to get ourselves fitter" Its usually these ones that give salads a wide berth in favour of huge house of commons lunches smothered with michelin star sauces, washed down with the moet.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 225.

    Life is too short to worry about all the edicts issued by the health fanatics.

    Yes, you may get a few more years if you studiously follow their advice but its years at the end, starving and shivering in your home or, at best, paying thousands to be 'cared' for by some minimum wage slave but do you really want to draw that out for longer than necessary?

 

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