The research results were published in the open access journal BMJ Open.
Results were independent of other regular recreational and physical activity in the workplace, or active commuting.
In older adults, it reduces the risks of long-term illness, falls, immobility, addiction, and death.
However, global monitoring data show that in 2016 physical activity was well below recommended weekly levels and remained virtually unchanged over a decade, with more than double the chances of people in high-income countries going out to laze. higher than in low-income countries.
Given that housework includes physical activity and is an indicator of the ability to live independently, the researchers wanted to find out if doing household chores could contribute to healthy aging and improve the physical and mental performance of older people in a wealthy country.
These included 489 randomly selected adults aged 21 to 90 years with fewer than 5 major medical conditions and no cognitive problems. All of them lived independently in one large residential town in Singapore and were able to carry out their daily routines.
Participants were divided into two age groups: 21–64 years (249; mean age 44), classified as “younger”; and 65-90-year-olds (240; mean age 75) classified as “elderly”.
To assess physical performance, walking speed (gait) and the speed of transition from a sitting position to a chair position (indicating the strength of the legs and the risk of falls) were used. Validated tests were used to assess mental dexterity (short and delayed memory, visual-spatial ability, language and attention span) and physiological factors associated with falls.
Participants were asked about the intensity and frequency of household chores they regularly performed, and how many other types of physical activity they did.
Light household chores included washing dishes, dusting, making the bed, hanging laundry, ironing, cleaning, and preparing food. Heavy housework was defined as washing windows, changing beds, vacuuming, mopping the floor, and activities such as painting / decorating.
The intensity of housework was measured by the metabolic equivalent of the task (MET). This is roughly equivalent to the amount of energy (calories) expended per minute of physical activity. Light housework received a MET 2.5; hard housework received 4 severance tax.
Only about a third (36 percent; 90) of the younger age group and only about half (48 percent; 116) of the older age group met the recommended quota for physical activity through recreational physical activity alone.
But nearly two-thirds (61 percent, 152 younger and 66 percent, 159 older) achieved this goal entirely through housework.
After adjusting for other types of regular physical activity, the results showed that household chores were associated with sharper mental abilities and better physical performance. But only among the older age group.
Cognitive scores were 8% and 5% higher, respectively, in those who did a lot of light or heavy household chores, compared to those in the low-volume groups.
And the intensity of homework was associated with specific cognitive areas. Specifically, hard household chores were associated with a 14 percent increase in attention levels, while light household chores were associated with higher rates of short-term and delayed memory by 12 and 8 percent, respectively.
Similarly, squat time and balance / coordination scores were 8% and 23% higher, respectively, in the high volume group than in the low volume group.
Representatives of the younger age group have an average of five years of education more than their older peers. And since educational attainment is positively associated with baseline mental agility and slower cognitive decline, this may explain the observed differences in the effects of homework between the two age groups, the researchers explained.
They warn that this is an observational study and therefore cannot pinpoint a cause, adding that the study was based on subjective reports of physical activity levels and the volume and intensity of household chores.
But they point to previous research indicating a link between aerobic exercise and improved cognitive function, so the higher mental agility associated with housework could occur through similar mechanisms, they hypothesized.
They added, “These results collectively suggest that higher cognitive, physical, and sensorimotor functions associated with heavy household chores are likely to be associated with a lower physiological risk of falls among older adults in the community.”
They concluded: “Incorporating (physical activity) into daily life through household chores (eg household chores) can lead to higher performance (physical activity), which is positively associated with functional health, especially among older adults living in the communities ”.
This story was published from the news agency tape without text changes. Only the title has changed.