Recent studies at and Nutrition Research in Australia (C-PAN) gives me a clue as to why I have such a difficult time keeping our home tidy. Researchers found that dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing the bath generate physical health benefits yet the monotony of the menial work brings no mental health rewards. Now I know why I find it so difficult to do housework – it’s monotonous! Of course it’s monotonous! Oh, I’ve known a few people who actually enjoy housework, but I’ve just assumed they are mentally unstable…perhaps even more unstable than me.
According to researcher, Professor Kylie Ball,
Running, swimming and gym workouts all help people stay fit and mentally healthy and people who undertake these types of exercise are less likely to suffer depression. But housework does not engender the same mental health benefits and shows no protective effects against symptoms of depression.
To come to their conclusions, the University conducted two studies. The first study, funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, surveyed 1554 women aged 18-65 from 45 Melbourne suburbs and all walks of life.
The second, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, surveyed 3645 women living in 80 socioeconomically disadvantaged Victorian neighborhoods in urban and rural areas.
“People living in disadvantaged neighborhoods are less likely to be regularly physically active than those from wealthier neighborhoods, which is why these areas were targeted in this study.”
Both studies found that women who reported moderate intensity physical activity during their leisure time were less likely to experience depressive symptoms. Professor Ball said the study also revealed the importance of the social aspects of exercise,
Being a member of a sporting or recreational club, having someone to walk with in the neighborhood and being active with a family member are all associated with improved mental health.
This is all very exciting news to me. I can now comfortably blame my bipolar disorder for not being able to keep the house looking shiny and new. You know, many people accuse those of us diagnosed with bipolar as using our disorder as an excuse to avoid responsibility. I believe I’ll keep a copy of this report on hand so I can rub it in the noses of those who claim we’re just plain lazy.
Finally, Professor Ball has to end on a low note by saying while housework may not confer mental health benefits, it does provide physical health benefits and is a useful form of exercise for many people. ‘So spring cleaning’ is still good for health,” she said.
“Spoil sport,” Professor Bell, “spoil sport!”