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How to improve your home’s air quality

Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is an important step, but one often overlooked aspect of a home’s health and comfort is its air quality.

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As people continue to spend more time at home, it’s important to support the health and comfort of those living spaces. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is an important step, but one often overlooked aspect of a home’s health and comfort is its air quality.

Proactively addressing potential air quality issues can result in cleaner air and more comfortable living. There are multiple factors that may affect your home’s air quality.

  • Indoor particulate matter consists of the visible and invisible airborne particles in the air that can enter your nose and lungs, some triggering allergies, asthma and other potential health problems.
  • Carbon monoxide, sometimes called the “silent killer,” is a colorless, odorless gas that can build up to dangerous levels if not properly ventilated, causing headaches, drowsiness and, in some cases, death.
  • Too much humidity can encourage the growth of bacteria and mold. Too little humidity can dry out your skin and wood furniture.
  • Volatile organic compounds are emitted by everything from household cleaners and paint to new furniture and dry-cleaned clothing. These compounds can have an adverse impact on your short- and long-term health, so proper ventilation is essential.
  • The level of air pollution in your community can affect your indoor air quality since opening a door or window brings that air indoors.

Change your filters. Clean filters support your heating and cooling system’s ability to operate efficiently.

Control humidity levels. When the air is too damp, the chance of bacteria and mold growth is higher, but when it’s too dry, your skin, lungs and furniture may feel the impact. Many experts recommend a humidity level of 40-50% for optimal air quality.

Invest in an air purifier. An air purifier is a simple way to improve your indoor air quality. Carrier has just introduced a new room air purifier that doesn’t require professional installation, making it an easy and portable solution for both homeowners and people renting their spaces. The purifier comes in two sizes and is powerful enough to purify the air in rooms up 550 square feet. Its high-performance fan and high-efficiency filtration system capture airborne pollutants and its 360-degree design filters air from multiple angles while easy-to-change filters make it a low-maintenance solution for busy households.

Strategically place greenery. Plants are natural air filters, so placing a few indoor plants around your living space may help improve your indoor air quality while also enhancing your home’s decor. Small plants like ferns and lilies are among the best options for pulling contaminants from the air.

Find more solutions for improving your home’s indoor air quality, and take the “Improve My Air” quiz, at CarrierAtHome.com.

Home Care

Spending time on household chores may improve brain health

Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

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Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

“Scientists already know that exercise has a positive impact on the brain, but our study is the first to show that the same may be true for household chores,” says Noah Koblinsky, lead author of the study, Exercise Physiologist and Project Coordinator at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI). “Understanding how different forms of physical activity contribute to brain health is crucial for developing strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.”

In this study, published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, the researchers looked at the links between household chores, brain volume and cognition in a group of 66 cognitively healthy older adults living in the community. The participants attended three assessment visits at Baycrest Hospital, including a health evaluation, structural brain imaging and cognitive assessment.

Participants were asked about the time they spent on household chores, such as tidying, dusting, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, heavy housework, yard work, home repairs and caregiving.

The researchers found that older adults who spent more time engaging in such activities had greater brain volume, regardless of how much exercise they did. This was observed in the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory and learning, and the frontal lobe, which is involved in many aspects of cognition.

Although it is possible that individuals with larger brains are more likely to take up household chores, there could be several explanations for the brain benefits of household physical activity.

First, we know that heart health is closely tied to brain health. It could be that household chores have a similar effect on the heart and blood vessels as low-intensity aerobic exercise.

Second, the planning and organization involved in household chores may promote the formation of new neural connections over time, even as we age.

Third, it could be that the older adults who engaged in more household chores spent less time being sedentary, which has been shown to be associated with negative health outcomes, including poor brain health.

“Besides helping to guide physical activity recommendations for older adults, these findings may also motivate them to be more active, since household chores are a natural and often necessary aspect of many people’s daily lives, and therefore appear more attainable,” says Dr. Nicole Anderson, Senior Scientist at the RRI, Director of the Ben and Hilda Katz Interprofessional Research Program in Geriatric and Dementia Care, and senior author of this study.

This study was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

As a next step, the researchers would like to assess household physical activity more objectively using wearable technology. With additional funding, they could also plan controlled trials with the aim of increasing individuals’ household activity and studying brain changes over time.

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Home Care

Fresh ideas for home upgrades

Spring means it’s time to start sprucing up your home and garden with a little TLC inside and out.

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Photo by Daiga Ellaby from Unsplash.com

Spring means it’s time to start sprucing up your home and garden with a little TLC inside and out.

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider these tips:

Make function a priority.

While aesthetic changes may boost value and please the eye, be sure to consider upgrades that make living easier, like organization units that give you more space or upgrades that create additional living space.

Keep budget in mind.

Make a list of the projects you’d like to complete and estimate how much each will cost. Use the list to determine what you can afford to complete now.

Do your research.

If you’ll be making a significant purchase such as a new vacuum or grill, be sure to explore your options, read reviews and shop around for the best prices for greater confidence in what you choose.

Set yourself up for a more enjoyable spring with more home and garden tips at eLivingtoday.com.

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Home Care

When to update home and garden goods

As you tackle spring cleaning this year, take stock of your common home and garden equipment to determine what may need updating.

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Investing in quality products, properly maintaining and storing them all have an impact on how long they’ll stay in good working condition.

As you tackle spring cleaning this year, take stock of your common home and garden equipment to determine what may need updating.

Lawn Mower: If your mower needs a repair that exceeds its value, it’s time for a replacement. However, there may be other signs that an upgrade is warranted. Rough operation, frequent breakdowns or other indications of faulty performance deserve a second look. Before you buy new, remember to check your warranty to determine whether repairs might be covered.

Vacuum: Many homeowners discard their used vacuum when it stops picking up dirt and debris as efficiently as it did originally. Before you move on, be sure to check that performance issues aren’t the result of clogged hoses or a filter than needs cleaning or replacing. A belt may also be worn or need adjusting. Other signs it may be time to replace the vacuum include damaged or frayed cords, motor issues like overheating or making strange noises.

Grill: A grill may last anywhere from 5-15 years, depending on the quality of the materials and how it is maintained. However, it’s common to have to replace parts along the way. Signs you may need a new grill include a firebox (the main enclosure) with cracks, rust or holes and burners that distribute heat unevenly. Damaged grates can affect even grilling if they’re warped or if they’re flaky or rusted, they can contaminate food. If you’re not able to replace the grates, or any other essential part, including hoses and connectors for a gas grill, you’ll be better off replacing the unit.

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