Older adults who get exercise through housework tend to feel emotionally and physically better than those who do not tackle household chores, according to US nurse researchers.
Researchers tested a theory called House’s Conceptual Framework for Understanding Social Inequalities in Health and Aging – considered a blueprint for understanding how different factors influence an older person’s health.
“House cleaning kept them up and moving. A clean environment is therapeutic”
The study’s 337 participants, aged 65-94, had at least one chronic condition. They also had physical restrictions that prevented them from doing at least one basic daily task, such as bathing and dressing, and were unable to manage responsibilities like taking medicines, handling finances or accessing transportation.
The researchers, from Case Western Reserve University’s school of nursing, linked geographic and socioeconomic information on the neighbourhoods in which the participants lived with health data.
Lead study author Kathy Wright said she was surprised to find that housework and maintaining property affected the participants’ physical and mental wellbeing more than factors such as neighbourhood or income.
“What I found was that neighbourhood poverty did not directly affect mental or physical health,” she said.
Ms Wright said the study highlighted how important it was for sedentary older adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses to continue physical activities, such as doing reaching exercises while sitting, arm curls and standing up and sitting down in a chair.
“House cleaning kept them up and moving,” she said. “A clean environment is therapeutic.”
The study findings have been published in the journal Geriatric Nursing.