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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
What is a good workout?
People of all ages have been urged to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day five days a week.

BBC News Online examines what constitutes a good workout and what does not.

At home

The government's chief medical officer says people don't need to go to the gym to have a good workout.

In fact, he says some routine chores can go a long way towards improving people's health.

Mowing the grass at Wimbledon
Even mowing the lawn works
According to his report, vacuuming and mowing the lawn using a power mower both constitute moderate physical activity.

DIY also gets his approval. Painting and decorating can get the heart pumping.

However, he says lighter chores like cleaning, dusting and ironing aren't strenuous enough.

Parents could also bring the children to the local park - ensuring the whole family gets a workout.

At work

The chief medical officer believes everyone can meet his target of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.

Which one are you?
Inactive: Drives to work or takes public transport to a sedentary job and does no active recreation
Lightly active: Walks or cycles part of the way to work, does some undemanding housework and light active recreation
Moderately active: Regularly walks or cycles to work, does regular housework or gardening and exercises often
Very active: Walks or cyles to work for a highly active job and trains vigorously on a regular basis
Highly active: Trains vigorously in order to play sport

He says the 30 minutes can be built up in bouts of 10 minutes throughout the course of the day.

Workers, he says, should consider cycling or walking to and from work.

If that's not possible, they should get off the bus or tube one stop early and walk to and from work.

But he warns that people need to walk at a moderate or brisk pace. Strolling along simply won't do.

During the day, workers should take the stairs whenever they can instead of the lift. Doing manual tasks also counts as exercise.

In the gym

Moderate exercise is doing enough physical activity to increase the heart rate and breathing. It may lead to sweating.

However, it is not supposed to be overly tiring. You should be able to continue for quite a while.

How they compare
Man doing DIY
Painting burns 90 calories
Vacuuming burns 105 calories
Playing golf burns 129 calories
Brisk walking burns 150 calories
Cycling burns 180 calories
Based on 30 minutes of activity
Taking part in sport or being part of a team is obviously one of the easiest ways of ensuring you do enough exercise.

But the odd game of badminton or doubles tennis or even a round of golf can also go towards your target.

While not necessary, going to the gym is also an easy way to boost activity levels.

Walking or running on the treadmill, cycling or doing aerobics all constitute a vigorous workout.


SEE ALSO:
Gym 'not necessary' to stay fit
31 Mar 04  |  Health
Daily life 'is good exercise'
10 Feb 03  |  Health


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