What Cleaning Your Home Just 2 Times Per Week Does to Your Body
When you hear the phrase "healthy habits," things like exercise, drinking water, and nutritious eating likely come to mind. But there's another health-promoting habit that is highly underrated: cleaning your home just a few times a week.
Yes, you read that right. The simple acts of cleaning and doing chores can come with major benefits for your mind and body. "Clutter may contribute to depression, decreased focus, stress, and anxiety," says Holly Schiff, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist based in New York and Connecticut. Meanwhile, "an organized home tends to produce more positive emotions like calmness and a sense of well-being."
Feeling skeptical? Keep reading to get the lowdown on all of the benefits you can reap just by doing chores two times a week. (Your mom will be so proud!) And for more amazing ways to live a healthier life with minimal effort, don't miss the Side Effects of Walking Just 10 Minutes Per Day, Says Science.
Your stress plummets
"Clutter represents unfinished business to our brains and this lack of completeness can be highly stressful," says Dr. Schiff. "By cleaning, organizing, and reducing the mess, people are able to gain a sense of control of their environment." This creates a more relaxing environment that helps people focus better on more pressing issues in their lives, she says. Start with small tasks, suggests holistic psychotherapist Diane Petrella, MSW. "You can relieve your stress level by clearing off a kitchen counter, folding laundry, or putting piles of unread junk mail in the recycling bin," she says. "Just one small step can make a big difference." And for more handy tips for living a healthier life, see here for the 8 Body Parts Experts Say You're Not Washing Enough.
You'll get fitter
Most health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend that every adult get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise—aka 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week. And guess what: certain kinds of house cleaning are strenuous enough to count! Per the American Heart Association, 20 minutes of vacuuming is the equivalent of walking one mile. Do that two times per week and you're well on your way to meeting your fitness goals without making an extra trip to the gym.
You'll boost your cognitive health
There's some evidence that regular household cleaning can be good for your brain, too—particularly as you age. A small February 2021 study published in the journal BMC Geriatrics found that older adults who engaged in more household physical activity (including chores, preparing meals, etc.) tended to have greater brain volume, which is associated with better cognitive health and performance. And for one great way of boosting your mental health, see why Watching This One Movie Makes Life Feel Less Hard, Says New Study.
You'll improve your heart health
Since certain kinds of house cleaning count as aerobic exercise, it makes total sense that house cleaning can be good for your heart health. A 2017 study, which tracked over 800 Swedish adults for 15 years, found that replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time per day with light physical activity (such as, you guessed it, household chores!) led to a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. Basically, tidying up once per day in the time it takes to watch a sitcom can cut back on your risk of heart health issues.
You'll sleep better
Cleaning may also help promote better sleep since it helps reduce stress—which can impact sleep quality. Additionally, washing and changing your sheets once a week can go a long way towards better sleep. "Simple things such as making your bed and sleeping on freshly laundered sheets and pillows can actually help improve your sleep quality as well, which of course affects our mental health and well-being," says Dr. Schiff. And for more great healthy living advice, see here for The Single Most Effective Way to Work Out Every Day, According to Psychologists.