Need Another Reason to Clean?

March 9, 2010

Health Net, Inc.—one of the largest publicly traded managed health care companies in the U.S.—wants to spread the word that spring cleaning not only results in a tidy home, but also brings with it mental health benefits.

According to Dr. Ian Shaffer, chief medical officer of MHN, Health Net’s behavioral health subsidiary, a thorough spring cleaning definitely brings with it a feel-good sense of satisfaction, and the physical exertion of dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing has been found to reduce stress and anxiety.”

According to Shaffer, while the physical benefits of exercise are well known, there’s mounting evidence that exercise—even in the form of housework—brings with it mental health benefits. In fact, one study conducted by University College London found that as little as 20 minutes of housework per week reduced feelings of psychological distress. In addition, it was found that the risk of mental health problems was reduced by one-fifth among those engaging in just 20 minutes of housework weekly.

“Exercise is known to boost mental health,” said Shaffer, “and house-cleaning activities are certainly a form of exercise. A bigger activity, like a top-to-bottom spring cleaning, helps you to feel organized and in control, and those feelings definitely result in reduced stress.”

Health Net’s health plans and government contracts subsidiaries provide health benefits to approximately 6.1 million individuals across the U.S. through group, individual, Medicare, Medicaid and TriCare and Veterans Affairs programs. MHN, Health Net’s behavioral health subsidiary, provides mental health benefits to approximately 6.5 million people.

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