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How June Cleaver maintained a healthy weight

Friday - 3/1/2013, 6:46am  ET

Del Walters, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Are you a woman battling the battle of the bulge? It could have more to do with your workload than your waistline.

According to a study reported on by The New York Times, women today do half the housework of their mothers.

The study, which was published in PLoS One, is a follow-up to an influential 2011 report on physical activity at work -- a study that excluded many women, who generally did not work outside the home 50 years ago. The new study compared the physical activities of women in the 1960s with their modern-day counterparts.

The conclusion: Women not working elsewhere were more physically active at home in the past, and thus burned more calories at home than today's women. All that mopping, sweeping and ironing amounted to about 360 more calories a day that were burned off, the authors concluded.

In 1965, mom spent an average of 25.7 hours a week doing chores. In 2010, women spent half that time tending to housework, or an average of 13.3 hours a week.

By sharp contrast, the authors found women today spend more time in front of a computer or TV than doing housework.

Women spent about eight hours a week in front of the TV in 1965 compared to the 16.5 hours women spent in front of a screen in 2010.

The study authors concluded that reallocating time from activities like housework to sedentary pastimes like watching TV has health consequences and could be contributing to the increasing obesity rates among women.

One of the study's lead authors, Edward Archer, told the Times the study suggests that women, and men, need to incorporate movement into their time spent at home. He says it does not mean either gender should be doing more cleaning around the house.

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