Does housework keep you fit? Ask your science questions

Ask us your curly science questions

Why is the sky blue? What actually is carbon capture and storage? Why does my vacuum cleaner make that noise? How does bitcoin work? And could Yoda really force push Palpatine?

There's no such thing as a stupid science question, but sometimes the answers can be tricky to find.

So ACM (the publisher of this masthead) has partnered with Cosmos, Australia's only independent science newsroom, to fulfill your curiosity and help to answer those curly science questions swirling around your brain.

So we want to hear what you're curious about.

Maybe the Earth fascinates you, or something about the human body has you stumped, perhaps your children want to know more about honey bees - whatever it is, we're here to help.

Ask us all the outlandish, practical or niggling science questions you have and we will find the right person to answer it, be they one of our science journalists, a researcher or even an expert in the relevant field. Remember there is no such thing as a dumb question.

Cosmos' journalists produce daily stories, a Weekly e-publication and Australia's last print science magazine from their Adelaide science newsroom.

Cosmos is owned by the not-for-profit Royal Institution of Australia, whose mission is to communicate as widely as possible about the science that matters to you.

Housework has secret benefits, particularly for the elderly

We all know that physical activity is good for you, and people in high-income countries are (on average) not doing enough of it.

But you don't have to hit the gym to meet your daily exercise quota - a new study has suggested that housework might provide health benefits, particularly for older people.

The study, published in BMJ Open, quizzed 489 people between 21 and 90 years of age, all of whom were living in Singapore and all of whom had fewer than five underlying conditions and no cognitive issues.

The researchers, who are based at the Singapore Institute of Technology and the Geriatric Education and Research Institute in Singapore, used a series of simple clinical tests to assess participants' physical and cognitive abilities.

They also asked participants about the frequency and intensity of household chores they did, as well as other exercise they took part in.

MORE SCIENCE

The researchers graded chores by intensity, with lower-energy tasks like washing up, tidying and cooking considered light activity, and tasks like window and floor cleaning, changing bedsheets, and painting considered heavier activity.

Of those aged between 21 and 64, only a third of participants (36 per cent, or 90 in total) met the daily recommended exercise total. Older participants fared slightly better, with 48 per cent of those aged 65-90 meeting the target (or 116 people).

But in both groups, nearly two-thirds of participants met this exercise target through housework alone - 61 per cent of the younger people, and 66 per cent of the older participants.

In the older age group, more housework was associated with higher physical and mental ability - independent of how much other exercise you did.

"Apart from a meaningful occupation, housework is also a component of instrumental activities of daily living - both key factors of successful ageing," write the researchers in their paper.

The researchers emphasise that this study can't indicate causation - it's not clear whether housework improves mental and physical ability, or if older people with better health do more housework. They say that more long-term research is needed to figure out this link.

  • This article is published in partnership with Cosmos Magazine. Cosmos is produced by The Royal Institution of Australia.