How The Traditional Ways of Indian Domestic Works Maintain Women's Health Better
IntroductionIn rural India there are still many families where men do all the farming by simple machines and women do all household work and cattle rearing without help from gadgets, machines or even hiring servants or maids for such work. These practices were prevalent in all the societies of India until a few years ago. The usual tasks to be done in a typical Indian household included getting and storing water from ponds or wells which were away from home, cutting and bringing fodder for cattle that almost every household would rear, bathing the cattle and extracting milk from them, selling the milk, collecting wood or making dung cakes for stoves in the kitchen, applying mud or dung in the front and backyards of the house, etc. These activities may seem strenuous but these have actually been done by our mothers and their mothers. This can be the reason why our parents rarely fell ill even when they didn’t go to any gyms. Even today the people, who do their household work on their own, are much healthier than those who don’t.
Advantages of doing Household Work
Usually we are so busy with our daily activities and commitments that we do not get enough time to do any other activity, especially physical activity. In such circumstances, the only physical movement we can do (and get to do) is the household work that we do between various other works during the day. This especially holds valid for most of us during this period of lock-down imposed by almost all the governments in the world, because we are all staying at home to avoid social interaction and maintain distance. Some of us may not be contributing to household chores already, stating them as boring, but they do not know how tiring household work can be. Household work can in fact, be used as a proper physical activity – just like other timed workouts – you can decide which task to do for how long in order to burn a specific amount of energy. It is being said that doing regular and ordinary household work is as advantageous as any other workout. This is especially true because none of us is going to the gym and this is our only option right now.
The main advantage of doing household work is that one doesn’t have to take out special time when they are with the kids at home or cannot go out because of the lockdown.
Another major advantage is that household work can be beneficial because it is a form of low impact and medium intensity exercise, which can be done for long durations of time without excessively tiring oneself. Various doctors also agree that doing household chores can improve overall fitness especially when one is not going to the gym for strength training or to the park for a jog.
Another advantage is that while staying at home one is more likely to contribute to some household chore everyday rather than get ready and show up at the gym four days a week. It doesn’t require commitment and one can change the activity as per the need.
It Is Also A Form of Physical Activity
It may surprise those who do not do household activities that doing household work takes a lot of energy and that too for a longer time compared to a workout. There are some fitness apps that recognize mopping and washing the clothes as physical activities and depending on the intensity of the activity, average calories burnt for half an hour are calculated to figure out how much energy did a person burn doing household chores in a day. For example, cleaning the floor for thirty minutes with a broom or a mop is comparable to doing thirty minutes on a stationary bike or the elliptical machine. Just like increasing the intensity of workouts and increasing the weights used during weight training can be more effective in achieving fitness, doing household cleaning with greater energy and speed can also result in more energy burnt during the activity.
Activities of household chores are comparable to traditional workouts in many ways, like doing the laundry includes lifting wet clothes and water buckets, which makes it similar in form to weight lifting. Similarly, brooming and mopping the floor requires the body to move in such fashion that it resembles swimming. The time taken during household chores can be adjusted with speed, just like the time taken to do workouts can be adjusted with the number of reps.
If you already do your household work on your own, we have some tips for you:
- Combine different activities together.
- Dusting before brooming and mopping.
- Keep the abdomen tight while doing all activities.
- Stretch your body more than you usually do.
- Skip the use of long mops and brushes. Instead, squat to do floor cleaning.
- Try to keep your back straight while doing all activities.
- Try to do each activity with more energy and in faster motion.
- Don’t make excuses to overeat or order food just because you are doing other work. It will ruin all the effort.
But, if you are still figuring out how to start doing more household work, these are the activities you can start with:
- Cooking and cleaning side-by-side; it takes a lot of walking around the kitchen to keep the kitchen clean while working.
- Cleaning the bathroom floor and wall tiles; scrubbing them with a brush or a nylon scrub.
- Going grocery shopping on foot; where you will have to carry heavy bags with you.
- Dusting the whole furniture and railings and rods.
- Searching for and removing spider webs.
- Doing the laundry with your hands.
- Removing the beds and then cleaning the room.
- Brooming or vacuuming fast.
- Mopping the floor with a towel like a mop.
- Washing your car.
- Bathing your pets after playing with them.
- Washing and ironing extra clothing like curtains, rugs, etc.
- Rearranging furnishings and objects in the house, etc.
How Household Works Maintain Health
It is understood by us that our metabolism varies with age and people of different ages require doing different kinds of activities to maintain their fitness. The intensity of the activity also has a great role to play in the output of the activity that you’re doing. It is generally recommended that people ages between 25 and 40 should try to do at least thirty minutes of medium intensity physical activity every day. It is essential for health because an imbalance in metabolism i.e. energy consumed and energy utilized can be the basis of many other disorders in the body.
Household works are gentle on the body i.e. they have effects similar to low or moderate intensity workouts. Therefore they can be carried out for durations longer than those recommended for workout sessions. Household works can thus help maintain health in many ways:
- Household works are low to moderate intensity activities.
- Household work moderately increases the heart rate.
- Household work can strengthen muscles of the abdomen, which makes it less likely to store visceral fat.
- They can be done without stressing out.
- People can involve kids and do household work together i.e. it reduces stress and builds healthier relationships.
- Doing household work oneself generally means lesser dependence on maids and servants, which also reduces stress.
- Village people or those with traditional values do all household work on their own and rarely develop lifestyle diseases.
- Doing household work ensures that there is no exchange of microbes with other families, which the house help or maid could have been carrying.
ConclusionMany health services confirm that doing low intensity activities at home is essential during the present lockdown, because there have been restrictions imposed on outdoor activities and it can have an adverse effect on fitness of the society. Indian women somehow have been doing part of household work without gadgets like vacuum cleaners or automatic washing machines. Therefore it wouldn’t be wrong to say that traditional working mannerisms and routines of Indian households actually benefited the men and women of that era. The new generation too, shouldn’t shy away or hesitate while doing household work, rather they should set an example before the rest of the world.
Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan
MD (ALT. MEDICINE) View Profile