Quick Hits
Daily brief research updates from the cognitive sciences

chores brain health

No, I haven’t been paid to write this by irate spouses or parents! Fact is doing the chores could be very beneficial to your wellbeing.

How so you may ask? Well, I admit I have exaggerated a little, but only a little, for the headline. But recent research has shown interesting correlations to dementia, and this matches bunches of other research into moderate and light activity being beneficial to health and therefore lifespan.

So, what does this latest research say?

This recently published study by Zhou et al. from the American Academy of Neurology analysed data from 501’376 people in the UK Biobank with an average age of 56 and tracked these over 11 years. They completed various questionnaires and various aspects of their daily life such as how much exercise they did, daily activities, social contact, etc. At the end of the study period 5’185 had developed dementia.

The researchers corrected for obvious factors such as age at the outset of the study and income groups. What they found is that those who engaged in physical activity had much-reduced chances of developing dementia (no surprise, backed up by countless other studies). They also found that those who had high social contact had much lower chances of developing dementia (also no surprise and also backed up by lots of previous research). But the one that may be more surprising is that doing household chores was one of the most effective ways of reducing chances of developing dementia (reducing it by 21%)!

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but other lines of research have already pointed to this, notably that light physical activity is very beneficial to us human beings. It is also one of the things that has decreased massively over recent decades with all manner of devices taking away, doing, or managing these so-called chores.

This is interesting and the name itself says something about our attitude – it is after all called a chore which has a negative connotation. The reality is that these light activities are just that light activities which keep the body active as it is meant to be. This is in contrast to exercise which requires much higher energy expenditure – in our evolutionary past and up to recent times we may not have done as much strenuous exercise as one might assume but we would have remained constantly active throughout the day.

Other research has supported this showing that light physical activity is surprisingly beneficial. So rather than think of getting out for a run or a session at the gym, we probably should be thinking more of just keeping active. And those household chores shouldn’t be seen as chores but as light activity that contributes to our physical and mental health and can therefore extend our lifespan and make sure that this life span is of a higher quality.

And that’s enough for me I’m off to make myself a cup of coffee and do the washing up!

Andy Habermacher

Andy Habermacher

Andy is author of leading brains Review, Neuroleadership, and multiple other books. He has been intensively involved in writing and research into neuroleadership and is considered one of Europe’s leading experts. He is also a well-known public speaker, speaking on the brain and human behaviour.

Andy is also a masters athlete (middle distance running) and competes regularly at international competitions (and holds a few national records in his age category).

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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, 2022
DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200701

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