HOUSEHOLD chores such as vacuuming or floor scrubbing provide enough exercise to protect the heart and extend life, a study has shown.
Scientists found that 30 minutes of activity per day, or 150 minutes per week, reduced the risk of death from any cause by 28% and rates of heart disease by a fifth.
But it was not necessary to run, swim or work out in the gym, said the researchers writing in The Lancet journal.
Of the more than 130,000 people from 17 countries who took part in the international study, fewer than 3% who achieved high levels of activity did so through leisure pursuits.
In contrast, almost 40% of highly active participants benefited from commuting, having a physical job or domestic chores.
Lead investigator Dr Scott Lear, from McMaster University in Canada, said: “By including low and middle-income countries in this study, we were able to determine the benefit of activities such as active commuting, having an active job or even doing housework.”
He added: “Going to the gym is great, but we only have so much time we can spend there. If we can walk to work, or at lunchtime, that will help too.”
The Pure (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology) study found that if everyone was active for at least 150 minutes per week, 8% of global deaths over seven years would be prevented.
It also showed there appeared to be no ceiling to the health benefits of taking exercise.
People who did more than 750 minutes of brisk walking per week reduced their risk of death by 36%.
Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “In an age where we’re living increasingly busy but often sedentary lives in the west, weaving physical activity into our daily routines has never been more important, not only to improve our physical health but also overall well-being.
“Increased physical activity could have an even greater beneficial impact in lower income countries, due to its low cost and the high incidence of heart disease in those countries.”