A New Study Says Doing Chores Like Washing Dishes and Gardening Can Decrease Heart Disease Risks Among Women

senior woman washing dishes in sink
senior woman washing dishes in sink

Vesnaandjic / Getty Images

Completing everyday tasks, like your household chores, can seem mundane, but the reality is that these seemingly simple activities can actually boost your overall health. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association featured insight from researchers out of the University of California-San Diego that detailed how chores like cooking, vacuuming, gardening, and even other daily necessities like taking a shower can protect against heart disease. "The study demonstrates that all movement counts towards disease prevention," Dr. Steve Nguyen, the study's first author, said in a media release. "Spending more time in daily life movement, which includes a wide range of activities we all do while on our feet and out of our chairs, resulted in a lower risk of cardiovascular disease."

The study found that participants who spent four hours each day completing "daily life movements" had 62 percent less of a chance of dying from cardiovascular or coronary heart disease. Plus, those in the study had 43 percent less of a chance of developing of developing either disease altogether and 30 percent less of a chance of experiencing a stroke. The team studied 5,416 healthy women across the United States between 63 and 97 years of age and put each minute they spent awake under one of five categories: sitting, sitting in a vehicle, standing still, walking or running, and daily life movements. The latter included activities such as getting dressed, cooking, and gardening.

Related: Science Says Completing Household Chores Can Boost Brain Health

Each participants wore an accelerometer on their waist for up to seven days to track their movements and the study authors watched their movements for almost eight years. During that timeframe, 616 volunteers in the study were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, 268 developed coronary heart disease, 253 had a stroke, and 331 died. "Describing the beneficial associations of physical activity in terms of common behaviors could help older adults accumulate physical activity," the study authors wrote. "Our results are noteworthy since much of the movement engaged in by older adults is associated with daily life tasks, which may not be considered PA (physical activity) by older adults themselves or by questionnaires." The team found that "being up and about" lessened risks of big cardiovascular events or deaths and "all movement counts" towards preventing severe health conditions.

"Nonetheless, DLM should be promoted given its ubiquity in everyday life and relatively low risk," the researchers wrote. "To determine the scope of potential health benefits of DLM, future research should test associations with other aging‐related outcomes." The team added that "healthcare providers and future national physical guidelines should consider describing the health benefits of PA in terms of common behaviors resulting in PA, such as DLM, which could help older adults accumulate PA."