The Health and Use of Time Group director, Professor Tim Olds, said physical activity done outdoors during leisure time and with a friend was more beneficial for heart health.
“Leisure-time activity such as playing with animals and the kids reduces the risk of death from heart disease and depression much more than physical activity at work or walking to and from work,” he said.
“Both leisure time and work-related moderate physical activity reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. But the reduction (in heart disease risk) from leisure-time activity (20 per cent) is almost twice as great as from work-related activity (11 per cent).”
The combination of enjoyment, outdoors and social interaction acted as stress reducers.
Despite this knowledge, national physical-activity guidelines considered all types of physical activity as equal, he said.
“We should rethink the guidelines to include information about what we do, where, when and with whom we do it,” Prof Olds said. “People enjoy leisure time activity much more than work-related activity.
Prof Olds will present his research at the Heart Foundation conference in Adelaide today.