A more even distribution would be fair: how housework affects health
The proportion of working women has increased significantly in recent decades. Nevertheless, the topic of "housework" still seems to concern women. Even in older age, senior citizens spend significantly more time organizing the household than senior citizens. This obviously does not remain without consequences for health.
Unfair division of household chores
Carrying garbage down, washing dishes, washing clothes: women still work much more in the household than men. This disproportion is not only unfair and contradicts the ideal of equality, it also brings health disadvantages for women, at least for the older ones. Because, according to a new study, seniors who do less housework feel significantly healthier than seniors who do more in the household.
Consequences for health
When a study by the University of Brussels was published last year and found that cleaning could pose a health risk for men, many a man felt confirmed in his reluctance to work at home.
At the time, however, the scientists from Belgium showed that the higher risk for diseases arose primarily because men are less likely to wear breathing masks and protective gloves, misuse cleaning agents more often and misjudge the mixture of chemicals.
In general, women not only do significantly more work in the household, but apparently also live healthier than men.
This has been shown in a recent study by a research group of the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS in Bremen.
The scientists examined the connection between housework, sleep duration and health among older people in Europe and the USA.
They found that on average, older women spend almost five hours a day doing housework, while older men are more reserved with only three hours. This obviously does not remain without consequences for health: The elderly feel significantly healthier than the elderly.
The results of the study were recently published in the "BMC Public Health" journal.
Women spend an average of five hours a day doing housework
Almost 21,000 women and more than 15,000 men older than 65 years provided information on their daily activities as part of international time use studies.
The study participants from Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the USA should estimate how much time they spend in the day with various activities - including housework such as cleaning, cooking, gardening and handicraft.
“The evaluation showed a clear picture. While the women spent an average of about five hours doing housework, the men held back. They only worked in the household for three hours on average, ”said Nicholas Adjei, a doctoral student in the Prevention and Evaluation Department at BIPS and first author of the study, in a statement.
“There are clear differences in the type of housework. Women spend an average of almost 220 minutes a day cooking, shopping and cleaning - men, on the other hand, only barely 90 minutes. The opposite is the case with gardening and handicrafts. Here men are active for almost 70 minutes a day, women on the other hand are barely 40 minutes. ”
In addition, there are clear country differences - especially among older men. While seniors in Italy only do household chores for 2.7 hours a day, it is 4.2 hours for German men.
A more even distribution of all chores would be fair
But how does housework affect health? “Here was an interesting picture. Overall, housework seems to go hand in hand with better subjective health for both men and women, ”said Adjei.
“However, if we look at this in combination with the length of sleep, women see an optimum of one to three hours of housework with seven to eight hours of sleep. For men, those who were particularly active in the household at six hours or more reported the best health regardless of how long they slept. ”
Reasons for the different effects cannot be reliably derived from the study.
“The type of activity may play a big role. Men work a lot in the garden, are physically very active and in the open air. Women, on the other hand, are sometimes involved in very repetitive tasks in the house, ”said Adjei.
"A more even distribution of all household chores between women and men could therefore make sense and be fair." (Ad)