Most people know that gardening is an excellent way to obtain tasty, organic fruits and vegetables for your table to boost your health. However, the benefits of gardening go far beyond the nutritional value of home-grown produce.
Researchers have determined that older adults who garden enjoy fitness, flexibility, physical strength, and cognitive ability, regardless of what they grow. So, you don’t have to raise edibles to enjoy many of the remarkable benefits of gardening. If you prefer flowers, grow flowers!
Good for the Body
Gardening helps reduce sedentary lifestyles, enhances overall health conditions, lowers obesity in older adults, and decreases senior health care costs. Exercise can also improve arthritis, raise energy levels, and boost immunities.
While gardening can help improve hand strength and agility, it’s also essential to avoid spending too much time on a single repetitive activity. Instead, aim for a mixture of weeding, digging, watering, pruning, and other tasks during each gardening session to avoid strain and stress injuries.
Good for the Brain
While tending to your plants, try using your non-dominant hand. Forcing yourself to use your “awkward” hand to tackle familiar skills is a technique that can help boost brain function.
If you have never gardened before, learning new skills and engaging in new activities is also useful for maintaining and improving cognitive abilities.
Good For Your Mood
Any activity that provides a sense of purpose will benefit your outlook. Taking care of plants or anything outside of yourself can help lift your spirits.
The benefits of gardening have become so appreciated that a new field called horticultural therapy has emerged. Specialists trained in the field help individuals facing addiction issues, dementia, depression, and eating disorders.
For the Best Results, Garden Outdoors
All types of gardening are beneficial. However, working outside offers several inherent advantages:
- Fresh Air – Indoor air can become stale, whereas fresh air outdoors is rejuvenating. Additionally, outdoor physical activities, including gardening, encourage deeper breathing, which gives major organs and the entire body a better oxygen supply.
- Sunlight – Vitamin D deficiencies are linked to osteoporosis, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Direct exposure to natural sunlight is one way to boost vitamin D levels, although it’s essential to find the right balance and protect your skin from overexposure.
- Natural Surroundings – The importance of contact with nature has become such a popular topic that some experts advocate “forest bathing” and other ways to spend time in nature to improve physical and mental well-being. Gardening offers a “hands-on” approach to getting closer to the natural world.
Make Gardening Easy and Fun
Raised beds and other accommodations can make gardening a valuable hobby for people of all ages and abilities. Try mixing vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers to create a garden that delights all of your senses.
If you don’t have enough space for gardening at home, see if you can join a community garden, which will add social interactions to the long list of gardening benefits. Search online or ask your local extension agent about any community gardens in your area.
When working in your garden, take time to enjoy the process. Don’t strain yourself, don’t spend too much time in the sun, and always stay hydrated. Most of all, enjoy the undertaking and the rewards it offers.