Housework doesn't count as exercise, reports new study

The calories you burn from scrubbing dishes, vacuuming or folding laundry shouldn't be counted as part of weekly activity levels, reports a new study.

Data from the Sport NI Sport & Physical Activity Survey (SAPAS) by the University of Ulster revealed that people who included housework as part of their weekly exercise log tended to be heavier than those who spent time on other physical activities.

Recommended guidelines

The U.K. Department of Health recommends that individuals get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every week, yet only 43 percent of the population report achieving this number. Additionally, two-thirds of the people in the study included 10 minutes of housework in their weekly reports.

And while housework is indeed an activity, the researchers noted, the study found that it was inversely related to leanness.

"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," said study author Marie Murphy.

Women need to get moving

The study's findings were troubling in that, excluding housework from women's activity logs, only 20 percent were meeting current activity recommendations.

So even though women and older people reported higher levels of housework, people should be aware that this type of activity generally can't be counted as exercise.

"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," Murphy concluded.

Source: BioMed Central Limited

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