Home Household chores Household chores may boost memory and protect against falls in older adults

Household chores may boost memory and protect against falls in older adults


SINGAPORE — Household chores can sometimes seem tedious, but a new study reveals that cleaning windows and sweeping floors can keep seniors mentally and physically fit.

Researchers from Singapore say that doing regular chores helps keep memory sharper and also helps older people recover faster from falls. Their study adds that the boost from household chores benefits older people regardless of any other physical exercise they do throughout the day.

The study authors found that household chores displayed a link to better memory, longer attention spans and better leg strength. With this extra strength, the team says older people have better protection against falls, which can potentially lead to broken bones or broken bones.

The results, published in the journal BMJ openwere independent of other regular recreational and occupational physical activities and active travel.

Doctors say that regular physical activity is good for maintaining optimal physical and mental health. In the elderly, it reduces the risk of long-term health problems, falls, immobility, dependency and death.

Most don’t meet daily fitness goals

Global data indicates that in 2016 physical activity fell well below recommended weekly levels and has changed little over the past decade. Additionally, people in high-income countries were more than twice as likely to be couch potatoes as those in low-income countries.

Since household chores involve physical activity and are an indicator of the ability to live independently, the research team wanted to determine if household chores could contribute to healthy aging and boost physical and mental abilities. old people in a wealthy country. They included 489 randomly selected adults, aged 21 to 90, with fewer than five underlying health conditions and no cognitive problems.

All participants lived independently in a large residential city in Singapore and were still able to perform routine daily tasks. The researchers divided the participants into two age groups: 21 to 64 (average age 44) and 65 to 90 (average age 75).

The study authors assessed walking speed and standing-sitting speed from a chair, an indicator of a person’s leg strength and risk of falling. They also used validated cognitive tests to assess each person’s mental agility – including short and delayed memory, visuospatial ability, language and attention span – and other physiological factors that can put someone at risk. one at a risk of falling.

What chores help the most?

The groups reported on the intensity and frequency of daily household chores, as well as the number of other types of physical activity in which they participated. The study authors defined light housework as washing dishes, dusting, making the bed, hanging clothes, ironing, general cleaning. , and the kitchen.

Heavy housework included cleaning windows, changing linens, vacuuming, mopping the floor, and activities such as painting and decorating. The team measured the intensity of household chores using a scale called Task Metabolic Equivalent (MET). These are roughly equivalent to the amount of energy (calories) expended per minute of physical activity. Light housework gave a MET of 2.5, while heavy housework gave a MET of 4.

Only a third (36%) of young people and about half (48%) of older people reached the recommended physical activity quota from recreational physical activity alone.

However, almost two-thirds (61%) of the younger group and 66% of the older group achieved this goal exclusively through housework, according to the results.

The older you get, the more chores improve health

Shiou-Liang Wee, study author and associate professor at the Singapore Institute of Technology, says that after adjusting for other types of regular physical activity, the results reveal that housework does indeed help boost mental and physical capacities, but only in the elderly.

The study shows that cognitive scores increased by eight percent and five percent, respectively, in those who did a high volume of light or heavy housework compared to those in the low activity groups.

The researchers add that the intensity of household chores has also been shown to be linked to specific cognitive processes. Specifically, heavy housework resulted in a 14% higher attention score, while light housework contributed to a 12% and 8% increase in short and delayed memory scores, respectively.

Similarly, sit-to-stand times increased by 8% and balance/coordination scores increased by 23% among those performing a high volume of household chores. Professor Wee notes that people in the younger age group had on average five years more education than their older counterparts.

Staying Active Keeps Senior Communities Healthy

Since education level shows a positive link with better mental agility and slower cognitive decline, the researchers say this may explain the differences in the impact of household chores between the two age groups. Despite the link, the research team notes that their study is observational only and cannot establish a cause.

They point to previous research indicating a link between aerobic exercise and improved cognitive function, suggesting that the sharper mental agility associated with household chores may occur through similar mechanisms.

“These findings collectively suggest that higher cognitive, physical and sensorimotor functions related to heavy household chores may likely be associated with a lower physiological risk of falls in community-dwelling older adults,” Professor Wee says in a Press release.

“Incorporating physical activity into daily lifestyle through domestic chores (i.e. housework) has the potential to achieve [physical activity]which is positively associated with functional health, particularly in community-dwelling older adults.

Stephen Beech, editor of the South West News Service, contributed to this report.