Washing Dishes Good for Brain Health? Study Finds Household Chores Reduce Dementia Risk

Getting a deep-cleaning done in your home can leave you refreshed, help you feel accomplished, and make your space a bit more comfortable. Turns out it could also be good for your cognitive health.

Research recently published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal, Neurology, investigated the cognitive benefits of a variety of physical and mental activities. Along with exercise and social gatherings, household chores were found to reduce dementia risk substantially. This provides more evidence that staying active in multiple ways can be good for brain health.


Dr. Huan Song, study co-author from Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, says, “Many studies have identified potential risk factors for dementia, but we wanted to know more about a wide variety of lifestyle habits and their potential role in the prevention of dementia. Our study found that exercise, household chores, and social visits were linked to a reduced risk of various types of dementia.”

To conduct their study, the team looked at data from just over half a million people from the UK Biobank, a large medical database aimed at better understanding the development of disease. The average age of participants at the beginning of the study was 56, and they were each followed for an average of 11 years. By that time, 5,185 had developed dementia.

At the start of the study, participants filled out questionnaires. Among the data collected were how often they did activities like climbing a flight of stairs, walking, playing strenuous sports, doing household chores, and completing work-related tasks. They were also asked which type of transportation they used, including walking or biking.


Mental activities were also a focus. Participants shared information on their education level, whether they took adult classes, their social time with loved ones, pub visits, participation in any groups, and their electronic device usage. Finally, genetic risk for Alzheimer’s was also considered.

After adjustments for confounding factors, the team found that regular exercise was linked with a 35% lower risk of dementia, chores were linked with a 21% reduced risk, and daily visits with loved ones took that risk down by 15%. This was compared with those who did very little of these activities. Benefits were even found in those with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s. The team says the findings show that even small steps may help your brain health.

Dr. Song says, “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.”


So the next time you’re staring at that growing pile of dishes, it may be worth it to tackle it instead of moving to paper plates.

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