For those who wouldn't dream of stepping foot in a gym, it could be a fitness plan made in heaven.

Scientists claim to have found a way of shedding the pounds and it doesn't involve treadmills or tricep dips.

Instead, they say walking the dog, mowing the lawn or even fidgeting could be just as effective.

According to one particular man in a white coat, Professor Harvey B Simon, author of The No Sweat Exercise Plan, we women should be looking to our Fifties counterparts for fitness ideas.

New research shows that the lifestyle which kept housewives looking trim in those days endless rounds of cooking, baking and cleaning is better for burning calories than a sweaty workout.

Prof Simon, a cardiovascular expert at Harvard Medical School who has studied exercise for more than 30 years, once extolled the virtues of aerobics.

But he has turned his back on his earlier advice that prolonged exercise was essential to a fit heart and now claims a home workout is the key to losing weight, being healthy and living longer.

One celebrity who endorses his theories is Hollywood actress Sharon Stone.

The 48-year-old recently told Grazia magazine that she shuns the gym. Instead she admitted her fitness regime involved parking her car a little further away when going to the shops or taking the stairs instead of the lift.

Professor Simon says moderate exercise, including washing the car, playing an instrument, scrubbing the floor, gardening and even sex, could reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 84 per cent.

He also believes up to an hour of moderate activity most days could also cut mortality rates by 50 per cent, as long as followers of the No Sweat plan follow a healthy, balanced diet.

In The No Sweat Exercise Plan, he recommends a routine of moderate or vigorous activities.

Under the plan, participants need to complete up to an hour of moderate-intensity activity five days a week, burning 3.5 to seven calories a minute.

Alternatively, they can work harder for 20 minutes, three days a week.

So either ditch those trainers and make friends with your mop or wait for the re-runs of Anthea Turner's BBC3 show The Perfect Housewife.

  • The No Sweat Exercise Plan: Lose Weight, Get Healthy And Live Longer by Harvey B. Simon, published by McGraw Hill, £12.99.