Perhaps it's time to revise the old adage "a woman's work is never done," as a new study finds that American mothers are spending less time toiling in the kitchen after their workday and more time unwinding in front of the TV.
New research from the University of South Carolina shows that mothers in the U.S. are far less physically active than they were in previous decades and now spend more time engaged in sedentary activities, such as watching television, than in cooking, cleaning and exercising combined.
The study, led by epidemiologist Edward Archer and published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, is a followup to a controversial study published earlier this year that showed that in 2010, women spent 25 per cent more of their time engaged in leisure activities than cooking and cleaning. What are fathers doing with their free time? Researchers have yet to investigate.
Still the trend points to the fattening waistlines of Americans. Compared to mothers with kids between ages 5 and 18 at home in 1965, moms with kids of those ages in 2010 spent on average 11 fewer hours per week doing physical activity, such as housework, cooking, child care, and exercising. Those same women are spending seven more hours a week in sedentary activity, such as surfing the web, driving, or watching television.
Moms of children under 5 have dropped about 14 hours of physical activity from their weekly schedule, they have increased their sedentary time by about six hours a week.
Plus this reallocation of leisure time means that contemporary women are burning fewer calories: the reduction in energy burned doing household chores and exercising averages 177 calories more per day for women with older children at home, and 225 calories per day for those with younger children.
"With each passing generation, mothers have become increasingly physically inactive, sedentary and obese, thereby potentially predisposing children to an increased risk of inactivity, adiposity and chronic noncommunicable diseases," said Archer. "Given that physical activity is an absolute prerequisite for health and wellness, it is not surprising that inactivity is now a leading cause of death and disease in developed nations."
The data for the study was derived from the American Heritage Time Use Study database, which consists of more than 50,000 diary days spanning 1965-2010.
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