How putting a little oomph into chores can keep you slim and protect you from dementia

Housework and exercise – they both feel like a chore for most of us, especially as we get older.

But a study this week found that vacuuming, ironing and taking out the trash regularly in middle and old age can reduce your risk of dementia.

Those who did the most housework were a fifth less likely to be hit with the severe memory impairment than those who did the least.

It came after researchers found in February that intense gardening was just as beneficial in avoiding an early death as doing hundreds of push-ups, sit-ups or squats each week.

Researchers believe that putting a little punch into household chores acts as a form of exercise, not only for the body but also for the mind. Maintaining both is thought to be crucial in warding off dementia.

A lack of regular exercise can also increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or being overweight or obese, which increases the risk of memory impairment.

West London GP Dr Zakariya Waqar-Uddin told MailOnline that even 10 minutes of housework can cause shortness of breath and increase heart rate, increasing fitness.

I’ve noticed that it also requires moving between rooms and planning what you’re doing, so that gray matter continues to function – regions of the brain thought to be most important for cognition.

We know that as we age, we tend to move less. So MailOnline has compiled a list of six ways to turn mundane tasks into mini-workouts – and it’s been backed by experts.

Hoover power slots

Turn vacuuming into the ultimate leg-burning exercise by performing lunges while you vacuum.

How to make them: Bend both knees as you step forward, lowering until the front knee is at a 90 degree angle and the back knee is an inch off the ground.

Push off on both legs and step forward, lifting your back leg and bringing it forward so that your back foot lands in front of you in a lunge position.

Lunges strengthen the hamstrings and calves, which helps stabilize the knee joint and can reduce the risk of joint strain and pain.

How much should you make? Aim for five sets of 10 reps, taking a 60-90 second break in between.

What are the experts saying? Personal trainer Belle Hutt says that by performing lunges, you target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

These are “the largest muscle groups in the body, so you’re burning the most calories while strengthening your lower body,” she said.

The flushing pump

Use the time between sweeping the floor and collecting debris in your dustpan to strengthen your upper body and core.

How to make them: Make sure both hands are empty as you bend down and get on all fours, keeping your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.

Straighten your arms and legs and lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor. Pause, then stand up. Repeat. If these are too difficult, try getting on all fours instead.

Push-ups improve upper body and core strength, build joint stability and maintain strength as you age – this can help older people stay active longer and reduce their risk of falling.

How much should you make? Aim for five sets of five reps, taking a 60-90 second break in between.

What are the experts saying? Ms Hutt said: “It’s a compound movement, improving core stability and upper body strength.”

Personal trainer Tom Opper added: “To keep progressing over time, it’s essential to apply the principle of progressive overload, which is to add more work to the routine so your body can keep going. adapt.

“This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as adding repeats, slowing down the tempo of each move, or adding a quarter repeat at the bottom of each repeat.”

Wash squats

Hanging up the laundry or doing the dishwasher can be a workout in itself, especially if you have a big family. But squatting while doing the chore is great for adding an extra layer of difficulty.

How to make them: While emptying the washing machine or dishwasher, squat as low to the floor as possible with good posture. This involves keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, your back straight, and sitting on your buttocks.

Use only your hands to pick up the clothes and try not to grab onto any surface, which will make the exercise too easy.

People are already doing squats that are a part of everyday life, like getting up from sitting, getting out of bed, and tidying up.


Adults are encouraged to do some type of physical activity every day. Exercising once or twice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.

Those over 18 should aim to:

  • Do strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) at least two days a week. This includes carrying heavy shopping bags, yoga, pilates, and lifting weights.
  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Moderate activities include brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, and doubles tennis. Vigorous activity includes running, swimming, and biking fast or up hills.
  • Spread exercise evenly over four to five days a week, or every day
  • Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break long periods of immobility with certain activities

Adults can also reach their weekly activity goal with:

  • Several short bouts of very vigorous intensity activity. This includes lifting heavy weights, circuit training, and sprinting up hills.
  • A mix of moderate-intensity, vigorous and very vigorous activity

Source; NHS

But adding extra burns calories, increases muscle strength, and improves mobility, balance, and posture.

How much should you make? Aim for five sets of 10 reps, taking a 60-90 second break in between.

What are the experts saying? Ms Hutt said: “This is another compound movement that not only improves lower body strength but also core strength. Remember to keep your back straight and engage your core.

One-legged surface cleaning

No matter how many times you clean them, the surfaces just don’t seem to stay clean, do they?

Use it as a positive way to get extra exercise. Standing while cleaning burns about four calories per minute, and standing on one leg requires even more physical and brain power.

How to make them: To make the legs work harder, try to balance yourself when doing mundane household chores.

Studies have shown that being able to stand on one leg is overall a good sign of health, with people unable to do so being twice as likely to die in their 60s.

It has also been associated with a reduced risk of falling and a better quality of life.

The seemingly simple exercise relies on good balance and muscle strength, as the feet, ankles, legs and core are needed to stay upright.

How much should you make? Aim to hold for 30 seconds on each leg and perform them three times each, with a 60 second rest in between.

What are the experts saying? Ms Hutt said: “It improves stability/balance for longevity and quality of life. Engage and tighten your core for the best success.

Extra travel on stairs

Carrying cleaning supplies, laundry, or other household items up stairs burns extra calories.

To make the core work harder, add a few extra trips up the stairs.

How to make them: Hold the object in front of you while making sure you can stand and see where you are going. Take a few runs, while maintaining good posture and contracting the leg muscles with each step.

Holding objects in front of you builds upper body strength and engages the core, while squeezing the legs together will stimulate muscles and improve balance.

How much should you make? If you’re aiming for a total of 10,000 steps per day — the nationally recommended amount — take five round trips for each section of laundry.

Divide your laundry into five sections: socks/underwear, t-shirts, sheets, dresses/trousers, and towels.

What are the experts saying? Dr. Waqar-Uddin said this weight-bearing exercise will make people’s hearts work harder, increasing the effectiveness of household chores as exercise.

“In the midst of the cost of living crisis, people are running out of money and may not be able to afford the gym. Anything that keeps them moving, mobile and out of breath around the house can be beneficial,” he added.

Ms Hutt said: “I suggest doing this exercise/chore first to warm up and prepare your body for the next exercise.”

A little elbow grease

Scrubbing and polishing become much more difficult tasks if done vigorously.

How to make them: Using heavy chemicals does a lot of work for you, with lots of grime and grime in minutes.

But opting for hot water and vinegar can have the same effect – at a much cheaper price – if you’re willing to put in the elbow grease. It will engage core, shoulder and arm muscles, increase heart rate and burn more calories.

Plus, being more thorough with chores — reaching under the couch with a dustpan and brush and scrubbing other hard-to-reach places — will not only make your home cleaner, but will turn regular cleaning into a chore. ‘coaching.

If it gets too intensive, treat it like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), made popular by Joe Wicks — with each cleanse session lasting a few minutes interspersed with rest intervals of 15 to 45 seconds.

Emily Servant, a certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance, explained that activities such as housework “burn more calories than expected.”

Cleansing falls into the thermogenesis category of non-exercise activity – all the energy expended when you’re not sleeping or exercising.

“People might not realize that the calories burned with the accumulation of all these little activities would significantly exceed the calories you burn exhausting yourself on the treadmill or the exercise bike,” she said. .

‘By combining your household chores with some basic exercises like those described in [this] program can give you a significant boost to your daily energy expenditure,” added Ms. Servante.