Scientists believe that housework can help improve older people’s memory and attention span.
Researchers found that seniors who do light housework and other tasks can feel more energetic. “higher cognitive function”.
Experts from Singapore sought to determine if household chores can contribute to healthy aging by increasing physical activity and mental capacity.
Researchers said that this link was independent of the amount of physical activity performed by over-65s in their leisure or work hours.
To assess participants’ physical activity, Boffins measured their walking speed and their sit-to-stand speed in a chair. This is an indicator of leg strength as well as falls risk.
Tests to assess memory, language, and attention span were also used to evaluate their mental agility.
Participants were quizzed on the frequency and intensity of chores in their homes as well as other types physical activity.
Their paper, published by BMJ Open, was based in part on nearly 500 Singaporeans who had undergone tests to determine their cognitive and physical health.
They were divided in two age categories: between 21-54, with an age average of 44, and 65-90, with an age average of 75.
Results of memory tests and physical tests (such as how fast people can go from sitting to standing to walking speed) showed that housework was associated with better mental abilities and more physical ability. However, this only happened in the older age group.
Just under half (48%) and a third (36%) of the people in the younger age group, and only a third (36% each), of those in their older age groups (age 65 and over) met the recommended levels of physical activity from recreational activities.
Two thirds of these people, 61% of seniors and 66% of younger adults, met their targets through housework.
Cognitive scores were 8 percent and 5% higher for those over 65 who did heavy or light housework, respectively, than those who did less.
Sit-to-stand was 8 percent faster for those who did more heavy housework. Balance scores were 23% higher.
It included dishes washing, dusting, making bed, laundry, folding laundry, hanging out laundry, ironing up, and cooking meals. There were also more difficult chores like changing the sheets, changing the mats, vacuuming the floor, or cleaning up after a fight.
People who were more physically demanding than others had shorter sit-to-stand times, better balance and coordination scores than those who didn’t engage in these activities.
The authors emphasize that this is an observational study and no conclusions can be drawn. More research is needed to establish a link between health and household jobs.
“In conclusion, our study suggests that a combination of light and heavy housework is associated with higher cognitive function, specifically in attention and memory domains, among community-dwelling older adults,”They wrote.
“Also, the intensity-dependent positive associations between housework and physical and sensorimotor functions in older people were found.
“Housework could also be used to complement the recreational activities of older people in high-income nations towards healthier aging.
“Future longitudinal and intervention studies are required to establish causality between housework activities and functional health.”