SINGAPORE: It may not be a bad thing for mum or grandma to do light activities like washing the dishes and folding the laundry, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on Nov 16.
A US study found more than 6,000 women aged 63 to 99, who did these light activities, had a significantly lower risk of dying.
Researchers found that women who did 30 minutes of chores daily such as sweeping the floor had a 12 per cent reduced mortality. The light activities the women carried out were at levels slightly higher than what is defined as being sedentary, said the researchers.
Those who were able to do moderate to vigorous activity had a 39 per cent lower mortality. These included brisk walking or cycling at a leisurely pace.
The intensity of activity was measured by a dynamic sensor the women wore.
Said the study's lead author Professor Michael LaMonte from the University at Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions in New York: "This is remarkable because current public health guidelines require that physical activity be of at least moderate or higher intensity to confer health benefits".
"Our study shows, for the first time in older women, that health is benefited even at physical activity levels below the guideline recommendations," said Prof LaMonte in the Daily Mail on Nov 17.
"Doing something is better than nothing, even when at lower-than-guideline recommended levels of physical activity," he said.
According to the study, the benefit was similar for women under and over 80, and across racial backgrounds. It also applied to obese and non-obese women.
"Perhaps most importantly for this population, the mortality benefit was similar among women with high and low functional ability," said principal investigator Professor Andrea LaCroix from the University of California.
While the study focused on older women, researchers said their findings also send a message to younger women and men that it is important to be active while young. This way, the habit is more likely to be maintained when they get older.