Home is where the Health is. 5 ways ‘housework’ can improve your health

by | Sep 16, 2018 | General Knowledge

You should see my house. I have a cleaner that helps me once a fortnight. It is still a mess. Why? I am a single parent, running a business, being a mother, a friend, a practitioner, a marketer, a bookkeeper, a networker and God knows what else. In short, I do not prioritise house work beyond a rush clean once my son goes to sleep. That is until now…Interestingly, two weekends ago, something came over me. This urge to be at home, to be homely, to nurture our home environment and re-invest some energy into our space. This involved a floor and shower scrub, a fridge clean-out, 2 loads of washing, vacuuming, mopping and finally, a good cook up to prepare for the week’s meals. And you know what? It felt amazing! I felt amazing! My pain patterns had diminished, I felt integrated. I was energised yet calm, grounded and centred. A far cry from my busy ‘to-do list’ hysteria that occupies my work days.

I had forgotten, you see, how important the home space is and the environment of ‘home’ to human health and well-being. So, considering this realisation, I’m sharing with you 5 ways in which housework can improve your health.

1. Housework can create good habits

Setting aside time to complete house work can set up good habits around self-care. I am thinking of cooking as an example here. Food preparation is one of the greatest ways you can set up good healthy life habits. Cutting and preparing food and spending time preparing meals, means you:

a) Know what is in your food;
b) You are more likely to make good food choices;
c) You are investing time into the cooking process, allowing for fats and other constituents within the food, to maintain their integrity.

2. Mindful opportunities

The physical action of household tasks such as washing the dishes, gives you space and opportunity to practice mindfulness. If you become engrossed in your dishwashing and single-focused, you can really feel the warm water on your skin, the soapy bubbles, the roughness of the scrubbing brush. And then, just for a moment, you stop thinking about your day. Just for a moment, you are giving your mind and your body SPACE. Within this space, you get to stop the treadmill of thought. Within this space, you can allow yourself to experience higher emotions, such as gratitude, and you can shift yourself from a stressed beta state to a more relaxed alpha state, where the mind and body can operate in coherence (Dispenza, 2018).

3. Change in postural load

One of the greater stressors on the human body is static postures. The body is designed to move. Movement improves circulation, respiration, communication, digestion and clearance of waste products. Housework involves many different postures, which means you get the chance to move your body, as opposed to sitting at a desk to say…write a blog. If you really want to capitalise on housework-induced movement, you could organise it into a circuit:

10 min mopping,
10 min scrubbing,
10 min gardening,
10 min vacumming,
Repeat

Playing around with incidental exercise circuits can be great fun!

4. Incidental exercise

Housework is incidental exercise – an activity built up in small amounts over the course of the day (https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/367553/pa_incidental.pdf). In our busy lives, getting to the gym or out for a surf (purposeful activity) can be hard to achieve. This is where incidental exercise can come to the rescue. Physical activity is important for reducing the risk of disease and illness, so lap up incidental exercise whenever you can.

5. Metabolic activity

Housework has real exercise value. Have a look at the research below that shows the different metabolic values of activities of daily living (MET values; Korey et al., 2010). The higher the MET value, the more oxygen consumption it takes to complete the task; i.e. the more physical exertion is required.

 

Ascend Stairs 10.3* Mopping 3.9*
Shooting Baskets 9.3* Mowing 5.9
Moving a Box 5.0* Painting 3.3*
Washing Dishes 2.1* Raking 4.7*
Dusting 2.8* Organising a room 5.2*
Gardening 4.0* Sweeping 3.4
2.23 m/s, 3% grade 10.4 Tennis 9.5*
Folding laundry 2.4* Trimming lawn 3.6
2.23 m/s, 0% grade 9.2* Vacuuming 3.5

Measured METs (measured VO2/measured resting metabolic rate). *sig. difference compared to 2000 compendium

It should be noted the MET value of an activity changes with age, injury and body mass.

Part of the routine

Housework is now part of my weekly routine and I must admit, I look forward to it. I now see housework as being good for my health and well-being. It is an opportunity to invest in self-care and the care of my family. It is a time where I feel particularly grounded. I love the satisfaction of the end-product too. Housework has been re-labelled in my mind as a win-win. Good for my health, good for my heart, good for my home.

For more ideas on good health habits, give us a call. We would love to help you live life more optimally. support@enitor.com.au.

Yours in health.

References

Ainsworth, B.E., Haskell, W.L., Whitt, M.C., Irwin, M.L., Swartz, A.M., Strath, S.J., O’Brien, W.L., Bassett, D.R., Schmitz, K.H., Emplaincourt, P.O., Jacobs D.R., Leon A.S. (2000). Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities.Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Sep; 32(9 Suppl):S498-504.
Dispenza. J. (2017). Becoming supernatural. Sydney; Hay House Australia Pty Ltd.
Kozey, S. L., Lyden, K., Howe, C. A., Staudenmayer, J. W., & Freedson, P. S. (2010). Accelerometer Output and MET Values of Common Physical Activities. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 42(9), 1776–1784.