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10 Unexpected Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning

This season, “cleaning” is about more than just tidying up your house.

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It’s a proven de-stresser

More clutter means more stress. So it shouldn’t be surprising that housework can cut stress and anxiety by 20 percent, according to a Scottish Health Survey. However, you do need 20 minutes of activity to get these effects. Using lemon-scented cleaning products can help you de-stress faster; studies show this happy smell reduces stress and leaves a positive impression on others. Here’s how to clean your house with real lemons instead of citrus-scented chemicals.

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It helps you breathe better

If you’re prone to allergies or asthma attacks when spring rolls around, don’t assume pollen is the only culprit. Dust and pet dander are powerful asthma triggers, especially in children, says Jennifer McDonnell, MD, of Rush University Medical Center. Here are some handy cleaning tips for those with allergies.

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It improves your mood

A thorough house cleaning—and then keeping it that way—is one mood boost you’ll definitely want to make a habit. In a study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who described their homes as stressful, in particular talking about clutter and unfinished projects, were more likely to have an increasingly depressed mood throughout the day. That, in turn, led to more fatigue after work. On the flip side, women who described their homes as relaxing (and less cluttered) became less depressed as the day went on.

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It gets you active without realizing it

Indiana University researchers made a surprising discovery about the correlation between physical activity and cleanliness: The cleaner the participants’ homes were, the more exercise they got. Simply burning calories while cleaning is one explanation for the find, but this relationship could be connected to self-regulation, the ability to act in a way that drives you toward your goals. If individuals were motivated to take control of how clean their homes were, they may be able to use that drive in another area of their lives, like physical fitness.

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It can make you more productive at work

Spring cleaning your office is just as important as tidying up your house, especially if the papers and folders cluttering your desk hinder your ability to work. A whopping 77 percent of working Americans surveyed by OfficeMax agreed that clutter damages their productivity at work. Adding “Clean desk” as a calendar appointment can help hold you accountable, but why not start now?

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It drifts you off to sleep

Can’t sleep? Don’t reach right for the sleeping pills and try tidying up your bedroom. People who make their beds daily are 19 percent more likely to consistently sleep well, according to the National Sleep Foundation. A survey from the organization also found that 75 percent of respondents slept better on clean sheets because they were more comfortable. Who knew that doing laundry had such added perks? Just be sure to avoid these 10 common laundry mistakes.

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It influences a healthy diet

As long as we’re talking about other ways to spring clean our lives, let’s talk about our diets. The idea of “clean eating” has been circulating for a while, but did you know a clean home could help you eat cleaner—or at least healthier? Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that individuals placed in a clean, orderly room were more likely to choose healthier snack options than those in a disorderly room. Check out these 55 recipes that make clean eating so easy.

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It prevents injuries

Having your kids clean up their toys every day will prevent the pain of stepping on a Lego, but young families aren’t the only ones who can avoid injury with a clean home. About one in four adults 65 and up fall each year, resulting in 2.8 million ER visits, according to the National Council on Aging. The organization recommends keeping walkways clear to prevent falls, so help elderly loved ones clear old newspapers and other tripping hazards from their floors. Here are even more spots you shouldn’t skip when spring cleaning.

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It could prevent sickness

Spring cleaning gives you an excuse to wash those spots you usually overlook in your daily or weekly cleanups. For instance, small kitchen appliances can be filled with old crumbs and oil splatters, while washing machines can harbor mold and bacteria from your dirty laundry. Washing away rid of food contamination or running vinegar and baking soda through a hot laundry cycle can get rid of the germs hiding inside.

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It improves heart health

A 15-year Swedish study of 851 adults found that sitting for just half an hour less every day reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular disease by 24 percent. Even low-intensity activity like household chores had the heart-healthy benefits, so you can feel good about picking up your vacuum. Steal these secret cleaning hacks from professional cleaners to make the most of your chores.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest