Cross-sectional associations of housework with cognitive, physical and sensorimotor functions in younger and older community-dwelling adults: The Yishun Study

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Abstract

Objectives Regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity recreational physical activity (PA) improves physical and cognitive functions. However, the age-associated relationships between non-recreational PA and functional ability remain less explored. We examined the associations between housework and functional health among younger and older Singaporean community-dwelling adults. Design Cross-sectional study. Setting and participants Younger (<65 years, n=249) and older (≥65 years, n=240) community-dwelling adults were randomly recruited from a large residential town in Singapore. Outcome measures Physical function was assessed using Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), repeated-chair-sit-to-stand and gait speed. Cognitive and sensorimotor functions were assessed using Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) and Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA), respectively. Methods Light housework (LH) and heavy housework (HH), recreational, and occupational and transport-related PAs were assessed using PA questionnaires. Participants were dichotomised into low-volume and high-volume LH and HH groups. Results were adjusted for level of recreational and other non-recreational PAs. Results Among older but not younger adults, RBANS scores were 8% and 5% higher in high HH and LH groups compared with low HH and LH groups, respectively (p=0.012 and p=0.016). Specifically, HH was associated with 14% higher attention score (p=0.014), and LH was associated with 12% and 8% higher immediate and delayed memory scores, respectively (p<0.001 and p=0.004). In older adults, sit-to-stand time and PPA scores were 8% and 23% lower in the high HH group than the low HH group, respectively (p=0.011 and p=0.040). SPPB and gait speed did not differ with age or HH. LH was not associated with physical or sensorimotor function. Conclusions Among older adults, housework is associated with higher cognitive function, specifically in attention and memory. Associations of housework with physical function and sensorimotor performance were intensity dependent. Housework PA is positively associated with functional health among community-dwelling older adults, independent of recreation and other non-recreational PAs. Further longitudinal and intervention studies are needed to establish causality.

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APA

Lee, S. Y., Pang, B. W. J., Lau, L. K., Jabbar, K. A., Seah, W. T., Chen, K. K., … Wee, S. L. (2021). Cross-sectional associations of housework with cognitive, physical and sensorimotor functions in younger and older community-dwelling adults: The Yishun Study. BMJ Open, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-052557

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