S.Y.LEE1, B.W.J.PANG2, L.K.LAU2, K.A.JABBAR2, W.T.SEAH2, K.K.CHEN2, T.P.NG3, S.L.WEE1
Singapore Institute of Technology1, Geriatric Research and Education Institute2, National University of Singapore3
Regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity recreational physical activity (PA) protects against ill health. The relationship between non-recreational PA with ageing health is less explored, especially in high income countries. We examined the associations between housework and functional health among younger and older Singaporean community-dwelling adults.
Younger (<65yrs,n=249) and older (≥65yrs,n=240) adults were randomly recruited cross-sectionally from a large Singapore residential town. Light (LH) and heavy housework (HH), recreational, occupational and transport-related PA were assessed using PA questionnaires. Participants were dichotomised into low- and high-volume LH and HH groups. Physical, cognitive and sensorimotor functions were measured using Short Physical Performance Battery, repeated-chair-sit-to-stand, gait speed, Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) and Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA). Results were adjusted for level of recreational and other non-recreational PA.
High housework groups had 5–8% higher RBANS score than low housework groups, among older adults only. Specifically, HH was associated with 14% higher attention score, and LH with 8–12% higher immediate/delayed memory scores. In older adults, sit-to-stand-time and PPA scores were 8% and 23% lower in high HH than low HH group. SPPB and gait speed did not differ with age or HH. LH was not associated with physical or sensorimotor function.
Among older adults, housework is associated with better cognitive function, specifically in attention and memory. Associations between housework with physical and sensorimotor performance were intensity-dependent. In Singapore, housework PA may improve functional health among community-dwelling older adults, independent of recreation and other non-recreational physical activities.