Home Household chores Even household chores can reduce your risk of dementia

Even household chores can reduce your risk of dementia


Key points to remember

  • Being active in daily life as an older adult can reduce your risk of dementia.
  • In a new study, people who exercised regularly had the lowest risk of dementia. those who did chores also saw benefits.
  • Visiting family and friends also often reduced the risk of dementia.

New research shows that doing everyday activities like household chores, exercising and visiting family and friends can reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Dementia is a medical condition that causes you to lose your cognitive abilities, such as your memory or your ability to make decisions. Dementia can range from mild symptoms that begin to impair function to severe symptoms that leave you dependent on others for your living.

Dementia is more common as people age, but it is not considered a normal part of aging. About a third of all people aged 85 and over have some form of dementia.

Part of the reason why simple preventive measures are so important is that there is still no way to treat dementia.

“Treatment for dementia is still limited so far,” study co-author Huan Song, MD, Ph.D., a research professor at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, told Verywell. “Therefore, we consider it important to know whether certain easy changes, such as adopting a healthier lifestyle, can be effective interventions for the primary prevention of dementia.”

Song’s study, which was published in the journal Neurologyanalyzed data from 501,376 people from the UK Biobank with an average age of 56. None of the participants had dementia at the start of the study.

Participants were asked to complete questionnaires at the start of the study about the physical activities they did, including climbing stairs, walking, and doing more strenuous sports, as well as how often they did household chores and were visiting friends.

During a follow-up of approximately 10.5 years, 5,185 people were diagnosed with dementia. The researchers found that certain activities appeared to be linked to a reduced risk of dementia. Those included:

  • Exercise regularly (35% less risk)
  • Doing household chores (21% less risk)
  • Daily visits with family and friends (risk reduced by 15%)

One limitation of the study is that the UK Biobank is not a very ethnically diverse sample. Additionally, participants’ activity levels and mental activities were self-reported, so the researchers had to take them at face value.

The study focused on older people at higher risk of dementia. Song said it’s unclear whether exercise and activity in young people can help prevent dementia in later life.

Dementia symptoms

  • Memory loss, poor judgment and confusion
  • Difficulty speaking, understanding, and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
  • Wander and get lost in a familiar place
  • Difficulty managing money responsibly and paying bills
  • Repetitive questions
  • Use unusual words to refer to familiar objects
  • Taking more time to complete normal daily tasks
  • Loss of interest in normal daily activities or events
  • Hallucinating or experiencing delusions or paranoia
  • act impulsively
  • Not caring about other people’s feelings
  • Balance and movement problems

Why being active can prevent dementia

While the last study did not explore Why activities like light exercise and household chores could lower your risk of dementia, not the first to make the association.

A study published in Open JAMA Network last year analyzed data from 43,896 people, focusing on how much daily physical activity they get and their risk of developing dementia. The researchers found that those who were more physically active had a reduced risk of developing dementia.

Another 2021 study analyzed data from 62,286 participants in Korea and found that an increased level of physical activity, including a low amount of low-intensity activity, was linked to a reduced risk of dementia in people. the elderly.

Dementia occurs when healthy neurons in the brain begin to die at a faster rate than normal. As Song explained, activity can help improve the health and quantity of neurons in the brain.

“Several possible explanations for the link have been proposed, including the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factors [which allow neurons to proliferate and grow], improvement of cerebral blood flow, and antioxidant effects in physical activity,” she said. “In addition, physical activity may indirectly influence other modifiable factors of cognitive function, including obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, depression, and cardiovascular fitness.”

Amit Sachdev, MDassociate chief medical officer of the department of neurology and ophthalmology at Michigan State University, agreed.

“A healthy body leads to a healthy brain. Better overall health is better,” he told Verywell.

Song said his team’s findings suggest that regular activity of any shape may be helpful for dementia risk, even if exercise is the more useful.

“Actual exercise and regular activity, such as household chores, help reduce the risk of dementia, but the benefits of exercise during leisure time may be greater,” she said.

What this means for you

It can be difficult to find the time to exercise regularly, but research suggests that being active in your daily life, even while doing household chores, can help reduce your risk of dementia.

Verywell Health only uses high quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact check and ensure our content is accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

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By Korin Miller

Korin Miller is a health and lifestyle journalist who has appeared in The Washington Post, Prevention, SELF, Women’s Health, The Bump, and Yahoo, among others.