The Positive Effects of Gardening for Seniors
Spring has officially sprung and hobbyist gardeners all over the world are rejoicing as it’s finally time to resume their favorite pass-time. As we step into the season of dirty gloves and fresh air, it’s the perfect time to discuss how incredibly beneficial gardening can be for seniors. There is a bevy of tangible, physical benefits including improved muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and brain health. To go along with a full range of the mental benefits that come along with independence and having a constructive hobby.
The best way to ensure you exercise daily is to make sure you are having fun doing it. It is significantly easier to get outside and work in your garden for most people than it is to suit up and go for a jog or walk.
How does the daily exercise benefit you?
• An increase in physical activity causes both immediate and long-term improvements in mobility and flexibility.
• Encourages full body engagement, so all of your motor skills are utilized.
• Daily movement can help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and has been shown to improve brain health.
• Exercise releases hormones that are important to maintaining a happy brain including serotonin and endorphins.
One of the largest breakthroughs in relation to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research during the last several years has been realizing the effects of physical activity and fitness on brain health. An active, engaged brain can help stave off the effects of both diseases, combined with the physical benefits mentioned prior; gardening is a health double whammy.
Seniors that have active hobbies have shown higher rates of happiness nearly across the board. Gardening has specifically been shown to improve mental health is nearly every person that actively engages in the hobby. With substantially higher feelings of both independence and happiness being directly correlated with gardeners vs nongardeners. Gardening has a noted effect on individuals with strong paternal or maternal instincts because it gives them something to care for and nurture; similar to owning a pet.
Increased mental acuity and health, long-term physical health benefits and short-term increases in both mood and body health. Everything about gardening sounds great, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the overall scope of actually starting. It’s not like you can just walk outside, throw some seeds in the dirt, and call it day. Gardens require nurturing and elbow grease, that’s where all of the benefits come from.
Getting started isn’t as daunting as it may seem on the surface, we even put a checklist together to help anyone get moving in the right direction.
o Decide what you want to plant! Veggies, flowers, and fruits are all on the table, so consider all of your options.
o Choose a patch of land that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.
o Establish plots for each different plant.
o Defend your plots from your local pests with wire mesh or screened in planters.
o If you aren’t working with rich soil add a rich top layer to your plots.
o Plant your seeds!
o Establish a care routine based on your plants’ needs. Potatoes barely need any help at all, while roses require daily care for example.
Gardening doesn’t have to be limited to those with no health conditions, it is also a great way to reverse some of the issues that come with aging, or at the very least establish independence and improve mental health.