Cross-sectional associations of housework with cognitive, physical and sensorimotor functions in younger and older community-dwelling adults: the Yishun Study
Objectives: Regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity recreational physical activity (PA) improves physical and cognitive functions. However, the age-associated relationships between non-recreational PA with 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 (<65yrs, n=249) and older (≥65yrs, 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, 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 (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. Results were adjusted for level of recreational and other non-recreational PA.
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 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 high HH than 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 between housework with physical 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 physical activities.