With growing interest and participation in gardening among golden age adults, scientists are taking notice and studying the effects of gardening on health, primarily mental and physical health. There are several ways that gardening can benefit seniors’ health, from reducing anxiety to preventing heart disease to easing arthritis pain and more. Here’s what you need to know about the mental and physical benefits of gardening.
Exercise and Burning Calories
Gardening may not be a great workout, but it is a form of exercise. According to experts, tilling and digging can burn 600 to 700 calories an hour. Add in activities like weeding, bending over, and watering plants — which might all be part of your daily or weekly routine — and you can see how gardening can lead to weight loss. Gardening also provides some much-needed physical activity for persons in their golden years who have low energy levels or medical conditions that restrict movement. Whether lifting, pulling, or pushing, garden work is another way for elders to get their blood pumping. Gardening with others is even better than going solo; studies show that people tend to exercise more complex and longer when working in a group than exercising alone.
The act of gardening, particularly when done regularly, can help boost your aging loved ones’ physical and mental health. Gardening has been shown to benefit adults in their golden years in a number of ways, including boosting muscle strength, helping them feel less isolated, and improving their social interaction skills.
Studies show that those with a higher level of vitamin D are less likely to experience depression than their peers who are deficient in Vitamin D. Others have shown that when a person receives proper levels of Vitamin D, their stress levels decrease significantly. While there are many ways to get vitamin D, one of those methods happens to be gardening! There’s something about getting your hands dirty and connecting with nature that just feels good. Getting outside, even if it’s just for a short period of time each day, can change your outlook on life and give you much-needed Vitamin D, boosting both your physical and mental health!
Studies have shown that working in a garden reduces anxiety and lowers blood pressure when stressed. In addition to reducing stress, gardening is also good for your body. It can help boost weight loss and improve mobility among people in their golden years by helping to keep bones strong and muscles healthy. Even those unable to walk well can participate in some aspects of gardening, including watering plants, moving around potted plants, or moving wheelbarrows filled with soil.
Decreases Risk of Dementia
Getting involved in gardening is a great way to help reduce the risks of developing memory loss, such as dementia. Numerous studies suggest engagement in gardening can help strengthen short-term memory and reduce instances of forgetfulness. Some research suggests that those who spend time working in their gardens are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. According to The Washington Post, Researchers found that those with more plants around their homes performed better on thinking and memory tests. That doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with your garden either—even small plantings can benefit your mental health.
Opportunities to Socialize
Research has shown that participating in a gardening program at a community center increases participants’ social interactions. On average, those who garden together stay in touch with each other for longer. Whether you garden with a spouse, a neighbor, or as part of a community service program, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Not only can you work together as you plant and water, but you also get to socialize afterward when it’s time to pull weeds and reap your bounty. It might be cliché to say gardening brings people together—but clichés exist for a reason!