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Good News, Bad News: Gardening & Housework Count As Exercise

Good News, Bad News: Gardening & Housework Count as Exercise

You may not like weeding the gardening or doing housework, but the good news is that they count as exercise. A new study shows you don’t necessarily have to walk 5 blocks or go the gym to stay fit. Keeping your garden and house tidy might be just the recipe if you are trying to get more exercise into your daily routine.

A new study shows that “most of the movements of daily life” count as exercise. Rather than focusing on  working out for a specific number of minutes each day, researchers have discovered that every movement we make, from the time we get out of bed to the time we go to sleep, counts as exercise. It’s an entirely new way of thinking about movement – and exercise.

The study was conducted by the University of California, San Diego. Researchers reviewed data from 6.000 women in the United States aged 63 and older who were of good health. They wore fitness trackers and recorded their activity levels for a week. Then a follow-up was conducted within five years. The study showed there are many benefits of maintaining continuous light activity during the day. Those women who stayed on the move throughout the day, for between 5 and 10 hours, showed the greatest cardiovascular benefits.  Women who engaged in continuous light activity reduced their risk of stroke or heart failure by as much as 22 percent and the risk of heart attack or death by coronary by up to 42 percent. That is a substantial health benefit.

The light activities the women engaged in included:

  • Walking around
  • Getting dressed
  • Checking the mail
  • Pruning the garden
  • Doing the dishes
  • Folding laundry
  • Washing windows
  • Vacuuming

The co-author of the study, Andrea LaCroix, a professor and chief of epidemiology at UCSD said “We traditionally don’t think of those activities as exercise but they involve movement.” That is why this research is such a significant shift in what is considered as exercise; now daily movement will be included.

Researchers concluded, “ for individuals who perform no or little moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, replacing sedentary behavior with light-intensity physical activity reduces the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality and suggests that “all movement counts” when it comes to coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention in older women.”

Now we know that changing daily habits can make all the difference. One in four Americans sits for eight hours a day and those sedentary behaviors are bad for the heart. Moving more and sitting less is an important, and healthy, change to make. Here are some suggestions on how to move more, as long as you are physically able to do so:

  • Park your car farther away from the store entrance to get in more steps
  • Get up and walk around the house every hour
  • Walk up and down the driveway, as long as it is not slippery
  • Put your favorite books in the other room so you have to get up and walk to get them
  • Visit your next door neighbors
  • Ask a friend to walk around the block with you each morning
  • Move around the house each day, dusting, rearranging pillows, sweeping, etc.

The more you move, the healthier you will be. However, now you know that you can move around enjoying life and keep your heart healthy at the same time.


If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices in Campbell, CAPleasanton, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.