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Dementia

Dementia (1)

Monday, September 12, 2022 17:45

Cleaning House—It’s Good for Your Brain!

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Cleaning up around the house isn’t just meant for springtime! The health benefits of picking up around your place has been shown to be good for your brain. Plus, it’s pretty good exercise. So, if you’re someone who has never been too keen about house cleaning, you’ve got good reason to change your mind! New research shows that the physical activity of doing household chores is good for brain health—even reducing your risk for dementia. 

Physical Activity and Brain Health

Being physically active increases blood flow circulation throughout the body and to the brain. Moderate physical activity promotes a positive mood, helps you manage stress, and can reduce inflammation in the body. A large research study recently published in the journal, Neurology, showed it’s not just exercise (such as brisk walking, swimming, or bike riding) that supports brain health. Daily activity from doing household chores also showed protective benefits against risk for dementia. Don't worry, we aren't talking about "bucket full of cleaners, rubber gloves, and a mop" type of cleaning. Just the simple, day-to-day, chores.

Essentially, the study team wanted to know “What lifestyle habits can reduce risk for various forms of dementia?” 

Over 500,000 men and women participated in the study, completing various health and lifestyle questionnaires. Participants ranged in age from 40-69 years, with an average age of 56.5 years. The participants were recruited from England, Scotland, and Wales. The results of the study established a significant relationship exists between certain lifestyle factors and decreased risk for dementia over a ten-year period. 

3 Simple Lifestyle Shifts that May Lower Risk for Dementia

The findings indicate that 3 lifestyle factors are associated with reducing risk for dementia:

  • Frequent Physical Activity: Associated with a 35% lower risk of dementia.
  • Housework-Related Activities (Chores): Associated with a 21% lower risk of dementia.
  • Social Visits with Friends/Family: Associated with a 15%lower risk of dementia.

These results indicate a strong correlation between risk for dementia and each of the 3 lifestyle factors. Suggesting that simple lifestyle shifts contribute to reducing risk of dementia as we age.

What type of household physical activity reduces risk for dementia?

According to the research, the household physical activities that participants engaged in on a regular basis included the following:

  • tidying rooms / organizing – folding clothes and putting them in drawers, hanging up clothes in the closet, removing any clutter from bureaus and nightstands.
  • dusting / vacuum cleaning – running the vacuum cleaner over high-traffic areas or in the kitchen, dusting the coffee table, bookcase, or other seldom used areas.
  • kitchen clean up – putting dishes and silverware into the dishwasher, wiping down the counters, and placing food items away after each meal.

Why might daily chores lower risk for dementia?

Even though the present study did not investigate the specific mechanisms of why engaging in chores is protective against the brain, other research lends insight into this. For example, doing chores also gets the brain thinking and planning. When house cleaning, you are not just moving; you are also actively planning the order of tasks, how to organize things, making decisions about what to keep or toss out, and so on. In a nutshell, doing chores involves a lot more of the gray matter between your ears than you might think!

Wellness 4 Later Life is a Priority at Everbrook Senior Living 

When it comes to well-being in older adulthood, Everbrook Senior Living provides first-in-class health and wellness solutions to enrich the lives of our residents. Our Wellness 4 Later Life programming offers innovative classes and activities to support mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. From exercise classes to social programs, our staff work closely with residents and clinical teams to deliver fun, individualized programs that enhance self-sufficiency and independent living in later life.

Resources

Jianwei Zhu, Fenfen Ge, Yu Zheng, Yuanyuan Qu, Wenwen Chen, Huazhen Yang, Lei Yang, Fang Fang, Huan Song. "Physical and Mental Activity, Disease Susceptibility, and Risk of Dementia A Prospective Cohort Study Based on UK Biobank." Neurology (July 27, 2022) DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200701

Psychology Today Online, “Doing Household Chores Linked to a Lower Risk of Dementia” written by Bergland, C., posted on 29 July 2022. Accessed 16 Aug 2022:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/202207/doing-household-chores-linked-lower-risk-dementia 

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