That’s right. Cleaning your house is one of the best body & brain workouts you can do. Move as much as you can, in as many different ways as you can. It’s not rocket science that movement helps maintain mobility, but new research suggests that it also reduces risk of dementia as we progress in our years. “Now a study finds even simple housework like cooking or cleaning may make a difference in brain health in our 70s and 80s” (Neurology Journal). Woohoo! And it’s free. Plus you don’t need to drive anywhere & you save on house cleaning costs. The benefits are numerous and we haven’t even begun – catch my drift? So, put on some fun music & get down (& up). Clear the cobwebs in your house, and clear the ones in your mind.
- Floors: ice skating. Put a Swisper cloth (or any wet cloth) under each foot, and start to ice skate. Once you get comfortable going forwards, try going backwards. Change the angle and go sideways, and skate all around – get each nook and cranny! To up your game, bend your knees more deeply and play with going faster and then slower. Ice skating across your floors strengthens your inner and outer thighs, core, gets your heart rate up, and is fun.
- Under your bed: baby cobra, backbend. On your belly, with dust clothes, slither forwards and reach your arms out in front. Keep your neck relaxed, try to concentrate on engaging the upper back, as you reach for those dust bunnies. Then, slither backwards, arms back by your side. This exercise strengthens your back body.
- Cabinets: down low, squat and up high, stretch your plantar fascia (note: I recommend doing this barefoot, so you get the full foot workout). Get out a cleaning cloth & spray, and come to Malasana (a squat) – so good for us! Great for your digestive system, hips, and ankles. In addition, as you make circles with the cloth, you are strengthening your wrists, shoulders, and arms. Make sure to switch hands. To get cabinets that are higher up, come onto balls of your toes (stretch for your plantar fascia), & keep your attention on your ankles. Notice if they bow out and if so firm them in so that you strengthen your ankles (ankles are the most commonly sprained ligament in the body). Then reach with your arms, creating circular movements with your hands as your cabinets begin to shine. Make sure to switch hands here as well.
- Vacuum: coordinate arm & leg movements, with a lunge, push and pull. Grab hold of your vacuum and switch hands – yes, use your opposite hand to hold the vacuum handle (note: it will and should feel weird). Then, think of creating a samba-like dance movement with your legs – you are pushing and pulling – moving forward and backward, side to side. Can you use the opposite arm & leg? Cross bodywork is so important for your overall health – strengthens your mind & body connections.
- if not afraid to vacuum toes, do this barefoot to work your feet.
- Spot Checking: get into plank and look at your carpet – any spots? change the angle, and look some more – perhaps you find you missed a spot.
- Dust: down low & up high. Get your dust cloth and for those spots down low, hinge at your hips, stretching your hamstrings. Then, to get up high, come onto the balls of your feet, stretch out your plantar fascia, and remember your ankles – firm them in, strengthening them. Then reach with your arms (allowing your shoulder blades to rotate out & up, i.e. don’t pull your shoulder blades down your back), and move your hands in as many different angles as possible. Go for those cobwebs!
- bonus: do this barefoot to work your feet
Try it out and let me know what you think. Enjoy cleaning your house: your body will thank you, your brain will thank you, and your pocketbook will be happy. Clean away.
Recently featured on NPR, All Things Considered: Daily Movement — Even Household Chores — May Boost Brain Health In Elderly: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/01/16/684589375/daily-movement-even-household-chores-may-boost-brain-health-in-elderly