Background: Public health recommendations emphasize regular participation in moderate intensity physical activity (at least 5 days per week, 30 minutes or more per day), including domestic activities (e.g., heavy housework). The contribution of domestic activities in improving cardiovascular disease risk remains unclear. This cross-sectional study aimed at determining the independent associations of domestic activity and other activity types with multiple cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (resting pulse rate, obesity, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure, C-reactive protein).
Methods: The sample comprised of 14,836 adults (ages 16 years and over) living in households in England in 2003. Interviews assessed participation in at least moderate intensity physical activity (domestic activity, walking, and sports), and nurses measured blood pressure and took blood samples. Analyses were done in 2006.
Results: A total of 24.2% of men and 19.8% of women met the activity recommendations, dropping to a total of 17.6% and 13.0% when domestic activity was excluded. With the exception of systolic blood pressure in women, domestic activity was not related to a favorable profile of any other CVD risk factors. There was a trend for lower body mass index and waist circumference and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol with increased participation in walking. Sports participation was related to a favorable profile for all risk factors excluding systolic blood pressure in men and cholesterol and C-reactive protein in women. The odds of being obese (body mass index more than 30 kg/m(2)) were lower with increased participation in walking and sports.
Conclusions: Despite its high prevalence, domestic physical activity was not associated with improvements in CVD risk factors. These results suggest that physical activity recommendations may need to focus on physical activities other than those performed in and around the household.