London - Climbing the stairs or raking the leaves is as good for your heart as going to the gym, scientists claim.

A study has shown that short bursts of activity throughout the day are just as beneficial as regular workouts in the gym.

Light exercises, such as simply walking around while talking on the phone, all add up to help stave off disorders that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Professor Brad Cardinal, of Oregon State University in the US, the study’s co-author and an expert in exercise and sport science, said: ‘This is a more natural way to exercise – just to walk more and move around a bit more.’

The researchers found that 43 percent of those who did light exercise –including everyday chores that take a minute or two each – met government physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes per day, compared to less than 10 percent of those who worked out.

Professor Cardinal added: ‘People get it in their minds that if they don’t get 30 minutes they might as well not exercise at all.

‘You will always be presented with things that entice you to sit or be less active – such as using a leaf blower instead of a rake.

‘Making physical activity a way of life is more cost-effective than an expensive gym membership.

‘You’ll be healthier, more mobile and just feel better all round.’

Cardinal said instead of driving half a mile, people should try biking or walking the same distance.

He also suggested doing sit ups, push ups or jumping jacks through TV commercials. - Daily Mail