Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Typical Saturday with Mr and Mrs Average

By Tim Olds

How active is the average family on a typical weekend?

Professor Tim Olds leads the Health and Use of Time Group at the Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It’s 7:20 am on Saturday, and Michael and Jennifer Average are just waking up. Their kids, Jack and Chloe,1 will be asleep for another hour. Mike’s 38. He’s a technician. Jen, 36,2 works part-time in retail.3

How do Mike and Jen spend their Saturday? To find out, we looked at use-of-time profiles for 3567 Australians. We got them to recall their day from midnight to midnight in as much detail as they could.

Mike and Jen are not particularly active. They both spend 9 hours per day on their backsides: 3–3.5 hours in front of the telly or computer, 2 hours just sitting and talking, 90 minutes in the car, an hour eating, and half an hour reading. But they do walk or cycle for about 50 minutes per day, and spend 18 minutes in the gym or playing sport.

In fact, most of the energy Mike and Jen burn up is doing chores. Jen spends over 3 hours per day on indoor chores, about 40 minutes more than Mike. Sound familiar? Jen spends 52 minutes in food preparation, compared with Mike’s 35 minutes. Jen also spends 16 minutes more than Mike on child care (32 vs 16 minutes), 12 minutes more doing the laundry (19 vs 7 minutes), and 12 minutes more shopping (37 vs 25 minutes). Mike, on the other hand, spends more time in the garden, and they both spend about 35 minutes cleaning the house.

When they’re not doing the chores, Mike and Jen spend a lot of time...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.