New York : Women who spend a substantial amount of time doing domestic chores such as growing fruits and vegetables, churning butter, beating rugs, washing windows and caring for children have better bone density and overall bone health than women leading sedentary lifestyles, new research has found. Previous studies in the field have looked at bone density measurements in menopausal women. This time, the researchers from Beckman Institute for advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign focused on women between the ages of 18 and 46, an age group that is not often looked at in bone density studies.
“We wondered why there was so little research on pre-menopausal women, since presumably their bone density and activity predicts postmenopausal osteoporosis,” said Kathryn Clancy, an associate professor of anthropology. The researchers focused on a population of farmers in rural Poland whose lifestyles involved substantial farm and domestic labour. They made some basic body measurements and looked at the physical activity patterns of these women. “We also used a bone sonometer. It is a portable device that can be conveniently used to carry out bone density measurements,” Lee informed.
The study found that measures such as grip strength and lean mass are associated with the bone density and frame size of pre-menopausal women. “We also saw that the bone density of the radius, which is the bone at the base of your thumb, is very high compared to an average white woman of European descent,” Lee said in a paper published in the American Journal of Human Biology. “My work focuses on understanding how our activities shape our skeleton and what it means for the modern population,” Lee added. Moving forward, the researchers said they are interested in understanding whether the childhood environment has helped shape the bone health of the women.