How washing the dishes could protect you from DEMENTIA: Researchers find keeping fit – even through basic house chores – keeps brain healthy in old age
- Those who ‘frequently’ do chores a fifth less likely to develop dementia
- Meanwhile, regular exercise can reduce the risk by 35%, scientists say
- Scientists say findings show ‘simple lifestyle changes’ may protect dementia
Keeping fit simply by doing household chores can cut your risk of dementia, say researchers.
Adults who ‘frequently’ hoover, do the ironing and take out the rubbish are a fifth less likely be struck down with the cruel memory-robbing disorder than those who don’t bother.
Chinese experts claim the brain benefits all stem from staying healthy.
Experts already accept some forms of housework, such as mowing the lawn, as aerobic exercise.
Lead author Professor Huan Song said: ‘Our study has found that by engaging more frequently in healthy physical and mental activities people may reduce their risk of dementia.
‘More research is needed to confirm our findings.
‘However, our results are encouraging that making these simple lifestyle changes may be beneficial.’
A study of half a million Britons found that those who ‘frequently’ hoover, do the ironing and take out the rubbish are a fifth less likely to develop dementia compared to those who do it the least
Dozens of studies over the past few decades have shown that regular mental, physical and social activity keeps the brain healthy in old age.
But Professor Song and her team wanted to find out more about the role played by a wide range of lifestyle habits in developing the disease, which affects 900,000 Britons and 5.8million Americans.
Researchers monitored 501,376 thousand Britons using data from the UK Biobank — a hub of medical and genetic information. Contributors regularly answer questions about their lifestyle.
At the start of the study, the middle-aged volunteers were quizzed on their physical activities, including how often they did housework and exercised.
Participants were also asked about how often they see loved ones, use their phone, computer and TV.
Over the course of the 11-year study, 5,185 people developed dementia.
The findings, published in the journal Neurology, show most physical and mental activities were linked with dementia.
Those who ‘frequently’ did chores were 21 per cent less likely to develop dementia, compared to those who did the least.
Meanwhile, people who exercised regularly often had a 35 per cent reduced risk of getting diagnosed with dementia, compared to their lazy counterparts.
And those who saw loved ones every day were at a 15 per cent lower risk, compared to those who barely saw friends and family.
The team also calculated dementia incident rates by activity patterns in person-years, which takes into account the number of people in the study and how long they were monitored.
For every 1,000 person-years, there was 0.86 dementia cases among those who regularly did household chores, jumping to 1.02 cases among those who didn’t.
Among regular exercisers, there was 0.45 cases, compared to 1.59 among those who rarely worked out.
And there were 0.62 dementia diagnoses among those who saw their family daily, compared to 0.80 among people who visited loved ones every few months.
The findings accounted for risk factors, such as age, income and smoking. Even those with a family history of dementia still benefitted from being physically and mentally active.
However, the data was based on self-reported physical and mental activity, so may include errors.
Scientists believe staying active can reduce the chance of developing dementia because it maintains blood flow to the brain and may encourage brain cell growth and survival.
It also protects against heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity – all of which are factors that increase dementia risk.