We all know that housework is a physical activity, yet understandably, you may not have considered its benefits – both for the body and the mind. Whether you're sweeping, scrubbing, or scraping, a couple of hours of house cleaning can feel like an intense workout.
But could your day-to-day housekeeping activities substitute for regular exercise? That's a question that has now been posed by scientists, and the answer might surprise you. Today, we'll look at two scientific studies on the impact of housework on your bones, your body, and your mind.
Benefits Of Housework: Brain Health
A great deal of research has gone into establishing the correlation between exercise and cognitive health. Regular physical activity results in a healthier brain that literally retains more of its mass during the aging process. Brain volume is important because reductions are associated with a higher risk of dementia. A study conducted this year examined the effects of low vs high-intensity physical activity on brain mass.1
Thanks to 2354 participants using step-counters and receiving brain scans, researchers discovered that low-intensity physical activity (such as housework) helps maintain brain mass. Among participants who didn't meet standard physical activity guidelines, those who engaged in low-intensity activity had greater total brain volume than those who did not.1
Participants who engaged in the recommended amounts of high and moderate-intensity physical activity (of 150 minutes per week) had the greatest brain volume, but the researchers suggested that might be because they also completed more low-intensity activity than other participants.1
For every additional hour of light physical activity completed each day, participants had 0.22% greater brain volume. That's about the amount of brain mass that most people lose each year after the age of 60. So this confirms that the time you spend on active house-cleaning has a protective effect on your brain cells.1
Maintaining full cognitive function is critical for leading an active and healthy lifestyle that maintains strong bones. These new findings show that even small actions can help move you towards a bigger goal, including reversing osteoporosis and leading a full life, both physically and mentally.
A new study has found that low-intensity physical activity, such as housework, has a positive correlation with brain mass. Reductions in brain volume are associated with dementia.
Can Housework Replace Exercise?
A British study of 4563 adults revealed that people who counted housework as part of a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week were heavier than people who only counted higher-intensity exercises.2 Many public health organizations (including the UK's National Health Service and the USA's Department of Health and Human Services) recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week to maintain good health.
While many types of housework qualify as a low-intensity physical activity that offer brain benefits, this study shows that housework doesn't require enough exertion to stack up to a more traditional form of exercise, like cycling, swimming, or jogging.2
Physical exercise in general translates to better bone health but targeted weight-bearing exercise that stimulates bone formation helps to improve bone quality much more than the light physical activity of housework.3 So while housework does offer health benefits, it shouldn't replace regular exercise for your bone-building exercise plan.
A British study has found that housework doesn't contribute to the 150 minutes of moderate-to-high-intensity exercise required to maintain good health.
Act With Intention
Housework can't take the place of regular exercise. But as the study on brain volume shows, even low-intensity physical activity has benefits- it's just important that you also get moderate to high-intensity exercise.
Exercise is a cornerstone of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. It's also one of the most important things you can do for your health across the board.
We’ve created Densercise™ — the Save Institute's exercise program — so that we can offer you an easy-to-follow resource that ensures you're getting the exercise your bones need. If you would like guidance constructing an ideal bone-building workout that includes resistance, flexibility, and weight-bearing exercise, then Densercise™ is for you.
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