US research: Doing housework good for health

Cleaning for Passover, washing dishes, doing laundry, chores helps reduce obesity, says Dr. Michael Yonash.

Cleaning (good illustrative) 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Cleaning (good illustrative) 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Although your back hurts and your skin is rough from water and cleaning materials less than a week before Passover, cheer up! Intensive housework like that being carried out around the country before the festival is good for your health and reduces obesity.
But heart-pumping housework must take place year round and not only a few weeks before the holiday.
The US study, which covered 45 years, was published in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) and conducted at the University of South Carolina and titled the American Heritage Time Use Study (AHTUS). The researchers found that today, families (mostly women) do much less housework than they used to, either due to labor-saving devices or using paid help.
In 1965, they burned an average of 6,000 calories from doing 26 hours a week of housework.
In 2010, they did only half as many hours and burned just 3,480 calories doing it.
Dr. Michael Yonash, a senior interventional cardiologist at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, said that cleaning for Passover, washing dishes and windows, doing laundry, ironing, cleaning the floor, cooking and other chores is “good for health.”
In 1950, only 34 percent of US women worked outside the home, compared to 60% today.
The research was based on diaries written by 50,000 women between 1965 and 2010. Only a small minority of US households had microwaves or dishwashers in 1970, compared to 90% and 60% today, respectively.
Yonash noted that many more women exercise today compared to decades ago, but this does not compensate for the number of calories that used to be expended on housework.
Today, he added, time is spent instead working on the computer or watching TV.