Taking care of household chores 'may improve brain health'

·1-min read

The majority of people don't count folding laundry or dusting shelves to be among their favourite activities.

But it seems there is no time like the present to pay more attention to household chores, as researchers have discovered that cleaning and organising may be beneficial for brain health in older adults.

"Scientists already know that exercise has a positive impact on the brain, but our study is the first to show that the same may be true for household chores," said lead author Noah Koblinsky of Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute (RRI). "Understanding how different forms of physical activity contribute to brain health is crucial for developing strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults."

For the study, the researchers looked at the links between household chores, brain volume, and cognition in a group of 66 people. Participants were asked about the time they spent on household chores, such as tidying, dusting, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, heavy housework, yard work, home repairs, and caregiving.

Brain size tends to be a strong predictor of cognitive health, and accordingly, the academics found that the adults who spent more time engaging in such activities had greater brain volume, regardless of how much exercise they did.

"Besides helping to guide physical activity recommendations for older adults, these findings may also motivate them to be more active, since household chores are a natural and often necessary aspect of many people's daily lives, and therefore appear more attainable," added senior author Dr. Nicole Anderson.

The team also hypothesised that there could be several other explanations for the brain benefits of household physical activity, such as the impact of low-intensity aerobic exercise.

Full study results have been published in the journal BMC Geriatrics.