Clean exercise

As an adult you know that exercise is good for you. Not only is it good for you it is essential to keep you healthy as you age. You probably also are aware that there are reasonably clear recommendations as to how much exercise you need. Each week adults are recommended to be engaging in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. The dilemma comes in discerning what is exercise and what isn’t. Some claim that doing housework can count as part of that 150 minutes each week, but can it really?

This was examined in an Irish study that involved surveys of 4,653 people aged 16 or older. Subjects in the study were asked to record bouts of activity that increased their heart rate or breathing rate and lasted ten minutes or more. This could include being physically active around the home doing housework, gardening, do-it-yourself, or other activities.

The surveys showed that 42 per cent of the subjects believed that they did get the required 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. However, domestic physical activity accounted for anywhere from 11 to 73 per cent of that exercise. So whether housework actually can contribute to that exercise quota becomes a critical issue.

In theory housework is activity and therefore burns kilojoules. However, the researchers found that housework was inversely correlated with leanness. In other words, people who counted housework as part of their exercise tended to be heavier.

It might be that heavier people report housework as being more intense exercise than leaner people. It could also be that people eat while they are doing housework.

Whatever the explanation, it seems that doing the dusting will not deliver health benefits and count as part of your exercise routine. Of course if you don the lycra and engage in speed vacuuming or extreme ironing or marathon dusting to the extent that you break a sweat, increase heart rate, and breathe heavily then you may get some benefits. In general though, housework does not equate to moderate intensity exercise. So off you go, it’s to the pool, the gym, the pavement, or the yoga studio for you.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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