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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 01:18 GMT
Daily life 'is good exercise'
Exercise class
People do not need to go to the gym to exercise
Those feeling glum because their New Year gym memberships have already lapsed can take comfort from research suggesting people take more exercise than they think.

A survey has suggested one in four people walks 364 miles each year - the equivalent of walking from London to Edinburgh - though more worry about finding the time to get fit.

A year's worth of running for the bus, walking the dog or doing the weekly shop burns over 100,000 calories every year, it said.

And one in four people walk for a month each year - the equivalent of spending 18 days in a tough aerobics class - good news for the fifth of gym members who never actually attend.

Housework

The survey of 1,000 people across the UK was commissioned by bread-makers Nimble, which says its results show it is worth climbing the stairs rather than taking the lift.

The survey asked people questions such as how much and how far they walked, then worked with a nutritionist to estimate how many calories that would burn - and how that compared to traditional exercise.

A simple thing like walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift is just one example of how to increase daily physical activity

Health Development Agency spokesman
It says housework burns 144 calories an hour, and gardening up to 350.

In general, northerners are more likely to walk up to two miles a day, though Londoners walk further than any other region in the country every year.

And women were shown to burn more calories than men, with a quarter covering up to seven miles a week compared to only a fifth of men.

A spokeswoman for the Health Development Agency said: "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 the gym to achieve this.

"People are currently advised to do 30 minutes of moderate activity such as brisk walking on at least five days a week - only 25% of women and 37% of men in the UK meet this target."

'Reduce sedentary activities'

She added: "A simple thing like walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift is just one example of how to increase daily physical activity.

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

"You could get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way, or go for a walk at lunchtime.

"Reducing the time spent doing sedentary activities like watching TV or using the computer will also help."

See also:

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