Women, and even men, might baulk at doing housework and other household chores but they could change their mind if they knew that such exercise can be very beneficial to their health.
Cancer Research UK-funded Study
A recent study has found a benefit for women in that housework cuts breast cancer risk. The research on more than 200,000 women (from 9 European countries) found doing household chores was far more cancer-protective than playing sport. And dusting, mopping and using the vacuum are also better than having a physical job. The women in the Cancer Research UK-funded study spent an average of 16 to 17 hours a week cooking, cleaning and doing the washing.
The importance of physical exercise
Experts have long known that physical exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer, probably through hormonal and metabolic changes. But it has been less clear how much and what types of exercise are necessary for this risk reduction. And much of past work has examined the link between exercise and breast cancer in post-menopausal women only.
The latest study looked at both pre and post menopausal women and a range of activities, including work, leisure and housework. All forms of physical activity combined reduced the breast cancer risk in post menopausal women, but had no obvious effect in pre menopausal women.
Out of all of the activities, only housework significantly reduced the risk of both pre and post menopausal women getting the disease with housework cutting the breast cancer risk by 30% among the pre menopausal women and 20% among the post menopausal women.
Other benefits of housework
But it is not only breast cancer prevention that is a benefit for housework and household chores.
Doing housework on a regular basis can really help towards your health and fitness goals too. The physical, aerobic nature of much housework can reap rewards for your figure and fitness, especially when you carry out your chores with an intention to trim and tone while you tweak your movements for maximum benefit.
But the bonuses aren't limited to burning calories. There are a number of wonderful 'knock-on' benefits that also occur when doing the housework is your exercise of choice.
A housework workout can be good for
Your physical health - approaching your housework tasks as workout-aids turns mundane work to your advantage. This reduces resentment or the sense of futility that can result from taking care of a home.
Your mental health - by viewing your chores as a route to health and fitness, you see them in a whole new (more positive) light. Any form of exercise is a real tonic for your mental health plus being on top of your domestic schedule brings an added psychological boost: it reduces the stress of feeling overwhelmed with housework. This naturally results in a healthier mental state. You will sleep better too.
Our emotional health and self-esteem – you are much more likely to feel better about yourself when you're in good shape. So exercise can be a great boost to your self-esteem. But when doing the housework is your chosen path to improved health and looks, you get a bonus confidence boost of a beautiful, well kept home too.
Your family harmony - if your home is orderly and enjoyable as a result a housework/exercise regime, everything runs more smoothly leading to peace and harmony in the home and family.
And it can even be good for your bank account! Exercising at home saves a fortune in gym fees, fuel, workout gear and more. And a housework-workout requires no expensive equipment. If you previously hired any kind of cleaning service, you could reduce the need with yet another saving.
It's also been suggested that the state of your home is quite an accurate reflection on the state of your finances. So that is something worth considering too!
Why not try doing housework as a form of exercise?
The worst that can happen is you end up with a tidier home and your chores done. More likely though, you'll become not only fit and healthy, but more confident, happy and successful too. Just 20 minutes of vigorous housework is enough to boost your mental health and help dispel your anxiety, stress and depression. The more activity you are engaged in, the lower your chances of psychological stress.
But remember, as well as lasting at least 20 minutes, the activity has to make you feel at least slightly breathless. Out with the brush and the broom! It is definitely worth the effort.