Science Says Completing Household Chores Can Boost Brain Health

Baycrest Hospital researchers also said this low-intensity aerobic-like exercise helps the heart.

Have you ever wondered how your everyday activities impact your health? While washing dishes, tending to your garden, walking the dog, and sorting the laundry are the types of tasks that keep a household running, these types of everyday chores are great for your well-being. According to a new study published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, cleaning, organizing, and doing other odds and ends around your home actually boosts your brain health.

"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," Noah Koblinsky, the lead author of the study and an exercise physiologist and project coordinator at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute (RRI), said in a statement. "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."

senior woman loading dishwasher
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The research team out of Baycrest Hospital gave 66 elderly participants three assessments: a health evaluation, brain imaging, and a cognitive test to test their mental capacities. The findings? Adults who participated in chores at home—like cleaning, cooking, and working in their yard—had larger brain volume. The researchers noted that chores are similar to low-intensity aerobics, which helps the heart and blood vessels, too.

Household chores are also helpful since they allow older people to stay moving and also use their minds for planning and organizing purposes. The latter helps neural connections form over time. "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," Dr. Nicole Anderson, the senior study author and a senior Scientist at the RRI, said.

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