Cleaning enlarges the brain

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If you haven’t done it yet, you should definitely make time in your schedule for your annual spring cleaning. Because the reward is not only a clean, hygienic and tidy home, but also a more voluminous brain. This is the conclusion of a recent study from Canada.

If that’s not motivation to clean: housework increases the gray matter in the brain. “Science already knew that exercise has a positive effect on the brain, but our study is the first to show that the same could be true for housework,” summarizes Noah Koblinsky, one of the study authors, from Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, Canada.

Those who do a lot of housework have a larger brain volume
For its study, the research team recruited 66 older people (average age: 71) who were not mentally impaired. They all underwent health and cognitive assessments as well as brain scans. The latter included determining the volume of the whole brain, gray matter and white matter. The cognitive assessment evaluated memory, attention, processing speed and executive function. In addition, the subjects’ physical activity was recorded using questionnaires. A distinction was made between exercise in the home and in leisure time.

Analysis of the data showed that seniors who spent more time on housework – such as cleaning, preparing meals or gardening – had a larger brain volume. This effect was independent of how much exercise they did. “Understanding how different forms of physical activity affect brain health is incredibly important for strategies to reduce the risk of age-related decline and dementia,” Koblinsky says in a news release.

Why cleaning or meal preparation increases the volume of gray matter in the brain could have several reasons, according to the research team. For one, they say, housework has a similar effect on the heart and blood vessels as low-intensity exercise. Since some brain diseases are due to poor heart health, exercise is indirectly responsible for a fitter brain, they say. A second possible explanation deals with housework itself. It requires planning and organization, he said, which creates new neurological connections in the brain, even at an older age.

Previous research has already linked sitting to negative consequences for health – including that of the brain. The study’s third explanation for why housework had a positive effect on gray matter was therefore: because senior* citizens would sit less as a result of these activities. “The results may motivate some people to stay more active, as household chores are a natural and required aspect of daily life and therefore seem easier to achieve,” study author Dr. Nicole Anderson commented on the findings.

  • source: fitbook.de/picture: pixabay.com
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