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Daily Life Is Good Exercise

Those who are feeling glum because their visits to the gym have not materialized despite their New Year’s resolutions can take heart: new research says people get more exercise than they think.

A survey conducted by Great Britain’s Health Development Agency says one in four people walks approximately 364 miles each year, which is the equivalent of walking from London to Edinburgh. A year’s worth of running to catch the bus, walking the dog or doing the weekly grocery shopping burns more than 100,000 calories during a 12-month period, according to the report.

In addition, one in four people walks for a month each year — the equivalent of spending 18 days in a tough aerobics class, which is good news for those gym members who never actually attend the fitness facility to which they belong, the survey noted.

The survey questioned one thousand people throughout the United Kingdom, and asked participants how much and how far they walked. The agency then consulted a nutritionist to estimate how many calories this activity would burn and how it compared to traditional exercise. Housework burns about 144 calories per hour, while gardening burns up to 350 calories per hour, the survey found.

Women burn more calories than men; one-fourth of the female respondents walked about seven miles each week, compared to about one-fifth of the male respondents, according to the survey results.

"The evidence shows that getting enough exercise is an important contributor to overall health and well-being, and you don’t have to go to a gym to achieve this," the report said. "People are advised to do 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking at least five days a week. Only 25 percent of women and 37 percent of men meet this target."

Walking up the stairs rather than taking the elevator is one example of how to increase daily physical activity, according to the survey.

"Try to set aside some time to do activities that you enjoy, like dancing, going for walks, cycling or swimming," the report said. "If you enjoy the activity, you’re more likely to stick to it."

Getting off the bus before your destination and walking the rest of the way; going for a walk during your lunch break; and reducing time spent doing sedentary activities, such as watching television or using the computer also will help, the survey noted.

Copyright 2003 Health Resources Publishing

© 2003 Health Resources Publishing