dusterSo did you hear? The expanding muffin tops of today’s American women are directly related to the amount of cooking and cleaning we’re doing -- or rather, NOT doing.

That's right. This study claims we are fatter because we don't do as much housework.

The authors found that back in 1965, women spent an average of 25.7 hours a week cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry. Ugh! I want to take a nap just writing that! By 2010, women on average had cut that figure back to 13.3 hours per week. Now that’s what I call progress, people.

But of course, cutting time doing housework does mean cutting a major source of physical activity in more than half, a source that hasn't necessarily been replaced by ANOTHER source. And there’s the rub.

It doesn’t matter if you work outside the home or not -- you’re probably burning fewer calories every day than your Mad Men counterpart would have: Women NOT employed outside the home burn 360 fewer calories a day than they did in 1965; working women burn about 132 fewer calories.

As you can imagine, the study has sparked a fair bit of outrage among women, many of whom took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their, shall we say, strong opinions on the subject.

Does all this inspire me to don a pair of high heels and do more housework, Mrs. Cleaver-style? Hmm ... let me think about that ... NO.

My feelings on household chores run the gamut from "resigned disgruntlement" (see: unloading the dishwasher, Swiffering, picking up millions of tiny objects from one place and putting them in another place) to "thoroughly dislike" (see: putting away laundry, vacuuming, cleaning out the fridge) to "INTENSELY DETEST" (anything to do with sponges or the bathroom). A neat freak I am not, you might say, which is why I’ll thank the women’s movement very much that I can choose instead to work full-time doing something I love, and forgo other little luxuries if need be, in order to be able to afford my bi-weekly house cleaner. Said house cleaner keeps on top of the major stuff and is, presumably, in better shape than me.

However, what this study does do is remind me yet again of how important it is to be active every day -- something I am woefully bad at, especially lately. (It’s been a rough winter.) In fact I feel like I should be standing up as a type this, because as we all know, sitting = death. And speaking of sitting, the study also looks at another culprit of our fatness: TV consumption.

In 1965, the Betty Drapers of the world spent an average of eight hours per week in front of the tube (or screen of any kind, not having computers or iPhones to veg out with). By 2010 that number -- you guessed it! -- more than doubled, to an average of 16.5 hours per week.

So we’re vacuuming less, watching more Downton Abbey marathons, and on top of all that, some of us work at least part-time in sedentary jobs, and MOST of us probably don’t eat as well as we should, amirite? Not a pretty picture -- but it can be fixed. The solution seems to be  to try to incorporate more movement into everyday life, from walking instead of driving when possible (the anathema of the suburbanite!) to using a yoga ball as a desk chair to running around outside with a ball and my kiddo. And maybe, JUST MAYBE, learning to hate my vacuum cleaner a little less.

Do you think you'd be in better shape if you did more housework?

 

Image via waynewilkinson/Flickr