Diet and eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight are this year’s top three New Year’s resolutions. 71% percent of us have one or more of these goals on our New Year’s resolutions list this year. It looks like we are a nation working to get healthier…and perhaps struggling to achieve these goals, given how many years these same health-related resolutions (or similarly worded ones) have shown up in the ‘Top Resolutions’ surveys. Gym parking lots fill up. Diet du jour health books pop up on best seller lists. And we eschew pizza in favor of the grilled chicken salad, dressing on the side, at lunch. Our commitment to living more healthfully is never higher than at the start of a new year!
Ninety plus percent of our time is spent indoors and, minus thinking about what’s in our refrigerator, we hardly give time to the condition of our home when we think about improving our health. But recent research shows just how important our clean home is to our health.
Some of the findings are expected: A clean home means fewer germs ( bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that go unseen but live in your home) and pests like bugs and rodents who can carry diseases and cause illnesses. But other health benefits are less obvious and show how aspects of our lives are interconnected. Here’s the proof:
A clean home reduces allergy and asthma symptoms.
“The more stuff you have in your home, the harder it is to clean,” Dr. Uma Gavani, an allergy and asthma specialist says. Messy areas increase the potential for dust, pet dander and mold to build up in closets, on surfaces and in crevices which can trigger breathing difficulties, decrease air quality and lead to airborne diseases.
A clean home is a safer home.
The two leading causes of injuries and deaths inside your home are falls and fires. Clean up to reduce the risk of tripping and falling. Remove clutter that could be a fire hazard, either by hastening the spread of fire or hindering your ability to get out of your house in an emergency.
A clean home lowers stress and fatigue.
Eating better and exercising more aren’t the only key components to living at a healthy weight; reducing stress and getting good sleep/rest are equal players. “When you live in a messy home, you are subconsciously reminded of work that needs to be finished and visually, your eyes do not have a place to rest,” says Dr. Rian Rowles, a psychiatrist in Oak Lawn, IL. “Too much clutter [and too many messes] can cause tremendous stress and fatigue. When things take longer to find, or can’t be found, stress levels rise, and so does your risk for illness.” A little cleaning up goes a long way: according to the National Sleep Foundation just making your bed in the morning boosts your chances of getting a good night’s rest by almost 20 percent.
A clean home means you exercise more.
A 2016 study from Indiana University found that participants with cleaner homes exercised more. Researchers don’t know exactly why: Do fit people have more energy to clean their homes, or are they simply disciplined in terms of their fitness and the cleanliness of their home? But “…the interior condition of the [study participants’] house seemed to be the only thing affecting their physical activity,” stated activity expert Nicole Keith, proving a correlation between a clean home and physical fitness.
A clean home can help improve your diet and waistline.
We know that women eat more sweets and high-fat foods when faced with daily hassles or professional stress. And researchers from Cornell University found that a chaotic physical environment may have an impact as well. They set up two test kitchens with healthy and unhealthy snacks – one organized and the other messy and disorganized – and found that those working in the chaotic kitchen consumed nearly twice as many calories in sweets as those who worked in the organized kitchen. Living in chaos impacts your food consumption and choices.