Saturday, October 10, 2009


Alrighty then. The question tonight is whether or not I should explain the research study or just cut to the chase. The conscientious part of me won't allow the bottom line without at least a little back ground, so here goes.

I read a study from the American Journal of Epidemiology regarding whether or not Intense Domestic Physical Activity, or IDPA was protective against all cause mortality and or cardiovascular related events or death. CVD related events being a heart attack and CVD death being a fatal heart attack, etc. To the best of my knowledge, cerebral vascular events or disease is a sub category. This involves strokes. A CVD event could then be a heart attack or a stroke as well as a complication of congestive heart failure or angina. This is all involving blood vessels, arteries etc.

The study I reviewed is from Scotland where they too have a prospective research study going on. Theirs is aptly titled, the Scottish Health Study. The research involved questionnaires, biometric measurements, and matching disease and death outcomes. I can tell you that the report that I read included details about the inclusion and exclusion of participants, the variables that were controlled for and the statistical analysis program that was used. The program was one that I had to learn about in Grad school. All this being said, I feel that the outcome or conclusion of the cross sectional survey of 1995, 1998 and 2003 is valid and worth highlighting.

We have heard in the USA as they have heard in the UK, physical activity is important and can be health promoting and disease preventing. Some health pundits emphasize the benefits of every day activity and go as far as to imply that house hold chores can provide the same benefits as say brisk walking, running, step aerobics, sports and cycling. The scientists from several UK universities used the existing data to test that hypothesis.

First you should know what they considered to be IDPA. Intense domestic activity includes walking or cycling as a means of transport, stair climbing as an activity of daily living, gardening and heavy housework like scrubbing floors and cleaning windows or do it yourself activities like gardening, raking, shoveling snow, digging, building, etc as compared to leisure time sports activities of cycling, swimming, aerobics, football, raquet ball, etc. The scientists looked at type as well as duration and frequency.

The upshot is this: Being more physically active than other people is a good thing! The people who did any intense domestic activity weekly did have a lower rate of death from any cause. The IDPA did NOT protect against cardiovascular events or deaths however. It appears that the IDPA is not moderate to vigorous enough to improve heart function and cardiovascular health. The scientists think that many of the activities associated with domestics engages smaller muscles and does not significantly raise heart rate. Many of the activities are done in place for example. Still, they also saw a difference between walking to the store (not preventing heart disease) and walking at pace (is protective) for exercise.

The take home message: Be as physically active as you can be and ALSO get some exercise - :)

Here is a reference for the study:

American Journal of Epidemiology 2009 169(10):1191-1200; doi:10.1093/aje/kwp042

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