Housework Doesn't Help People Lose Weight

Friday, 18 Oct 2013 01:13 PM

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If you include housework as a part of your weekly exercise, you might want to put down your broom and pick up your gym bag. Housework might not be as healthy as you think, at least where losing weight is concerned, according to an Irish study. Researchers at the University of Ulster Sports Academy found that people who include domestic chores as part of an activity regime tend to weigh more.

More than 4,600 people were asked to rate the amount and intensity of their physical activity at home, in work, for personal transport, in sport and recreation.

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The study found that the more time people reported doing housework as a large part of their exercise routine (which they considered moderate to vigorous activity), the heavier they tended to be. The ones who reported doing the most housework were heavier than those who reported other forms of moderately intensive exercise.

Although it is acknowledged that any activity is better than none, the study suggests that those undertaking domestic chores may be making the assumption that it is moderate intensity and contributes to the 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity recommended in UK guidelines.

When questioned for the survey, less than 43 per cent of respondents reported meeting or exceeding the government guidelines, and these individuals reported 11 to 73 per cent of their weekly moderate intensity activity tally came from doing housework.

The research was led by Professor Marie Murphy, Head of the Ulster Sports Academy at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus.

“Housework is physical activity and any physical activity should theoretically increase the amount of calories expended,” explained Professor Murphy.

“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.”

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Women and older people questioned in the survey reported included higher levels of housework.

For women, exclusion of housework from the list of their weekly physical activities meant that only 1 in 5 met current activity recommendations.

Professor Murphy continued: “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.”

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