At this time of year, I tend to get started on some much-needed “spring cleaning” in and around the house.
For one, it feels natural to get things freshened up and organized after the long winter.
Plus, as I often report, any time spent doing housework and/or yardwork counts toward your weekly physical activity target.
And now—a new study out of Singapore suggests that my springtime scrubbing, raking, and weeding not only helps build a healthier body… it also helps with something entirely unexpected…
Here’s what I mean…
Surprising benefits of “rolling up your sleeves” around the house
For this new study, researchers randomly selected nearly 500 adults between the ages 21 and 90, with no cognitive problems and four or fewer underlying health conditions. All participants were living on their own within one large residential area in Singapore.
First, the researchers assessed the participants’ walking speed (gait) and sitting-to-standing time. (In other words, how long it took for the person to rise from a seated position.) Both of these measures serve as good indicators of leg strength and potential risk of falling.
Second, they gave the participants a battery of cognitive tests to assess things like attention span, language, and memory.
Third, they asked them to report on how often they performed recreational activities as well as certain household chores
The researchers defined “light housework” as cooking, dusting, laundry, making beds, and general cleaning and washing up. And they defined “heavy housework” as changing beds, cleaning windows, vacuuming, and painting.
Here’s what they found…
Housework does more than keep you physically fit
It turns out, 61 percent of the younger age group and 66 percent of the older age group met the weekly physical activity recommendations JUST by doing housework.
Plus, as you might expect, older people who performed more “heavy housework” scored 8 percent better on their sit-to-stand testing than those who performed less. They also scored an impressive 23 percent better on their balance and coordination tests.
In addition, they had better leg strength, which ultimately helps reduce the risk of falling.
And that’s not all…
Older people benefitted cognitively from engaging in both “light” and “heavy” housework. For example, compared to those who performed little housework, older people who routinely engaged in:
- Either “light” or “heavy” housework scored up to 8 percent better overall on cognitive testing.
- “Heavy” housework scored 14 percent better on specific testing to assess attention.
- “Light” housework scored 12 percent better on short-term memory testing and 8 percent better on delayed-memory testing.
Overall, this study shows that regularly performing “chores” around the house helps keep you both physically and memory sharp—regardless of any other kind physical activity you may or may not get throughout the week.
Not to mention, older people who perform their own housework (rather than source it out) also tend to live independently, which research links to higher life expectancy.
You can learn much more about the many health benefits of working in and around the house—including a MUCH lower breast cancer risk for women—in the March 2022 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“Sweeping the floor and making the bed helps increase longevity and improve cognition!?”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, click here to become one.