Unlock the Benefits: Discover the Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Gardening for Older Adults

Gardening offers mental and physical health benefits, such as improved mood, increased physical activity, reduced stress levels, and improved cognitive functioning. It helps reduce social isolation and gives seniors a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

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Unlock the Benefits: Discover the Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Gardening for Older Adults
6 Min Read March 1st, 2023

As you get older, your overall health will start to deteriorate. This is a fact of life; unfortunately, there's no way to prevent it. However, you can slow down the process and find ways to improve your health. For instance, research shows that hobbies and activities help maintain health in older adults. So, instead of becoming increasingly sedentary, why not try something new? After all, now that you're retired, you have much more free time. Of course, there are many activities to choose from, but you should also consider gardening. If you're unsure about this, just look at some of the mental and physical health benefits of gardening for older adults.

Here are seven benefits of gardening for older adults:

  1. One of the best mental and physical health benefits of gardening for older adults is that it gives you a sense of purpose

Seniors may lack a sense of purpose due to a variety of factors. As you age, you may experience physical and mental health issues that can limit your ability to engage in activities that give you a sense of purpose. Additionally, retirement can be a difficult transition for some people. You no longer have the same job or career that gave you a sense of purpose and identity. 

Furthermore, some people may struggle to find new hobbies or activities that give them a sense of purpose later in life. Let's face it, at this point in anyone's life, the kids are all grown up and no longer need you to take care of them. All this change can eventually lead to depression. 

However, gardening can help prevent this from happening. It is a very meaningful activity that stimulates your mind and creativity. Moreover, since it involves a lot of care and responsibility, it will also increase your self-esteem. 

  1. It promotes movement

Exercising is essential for your physical and mental health. And this applies no matter your age. But do you need a gym to stay fit after 50? The answer is no. As you age, high-impact workouts can become dangerous for your health. Therefore, you should focus on low-impact physical activities. For example, you can take regular walks, dance classes, do yoga, swim, or find a hobby such as gardening.

Many people think gardening is a piece of cake, but it involves a lot of hard work. Digging, lifting, pulling, and pruning will strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility. Not to mention that you'll burn a lot of calories in the process, so you'll be able to maintain a healthy weight. Furthermore, exercising also reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Gardening is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, which are essential for physical and mental health. 

For those with limited mobility or other physical limitations, raised beds or container gardens can be used to make gardening easier. Gardening can also be adapted to suit the individual's needs and abilities, so if you or a loved one has health issues, gardening can be adapted and enjoyed no matter the specific situation.

  1. It strengthens your bones

As you probably know by now, osteoporosis is a common health concern for seniors. Therefore, increasing and maintaining bone strength should be a top priority. And gardening can help with this as well. 

Spending time outside in the sunlight will give you a good dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, a key component of strong bones. Additionally, physical activity outdoors can help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

  1. It promotes healthy eating

One of the best mental and physical health benefits of gardening for older adults is that it promotes healthy eating. Once again, this is recommended for any age. But eating right will help you achieve a better quality of life as you age. Even if you no longer need as much food as before, it still needs to provide you with the necessary nutrients.This will improve your overall health and even reduce chronic disease risk.

Gardening offers you the possibility to grow and eat healthy natural produce. It also helps you save money by reducing your trips to the grocery store. Your garden can include everything from fruits, vegetables, and herbs to chickens.

  1. It helps reduce stress

Stress has a very negative impact on your mind and body. Unfortunately, we live very stressful lives, and this doesn't stop once you retire. For instance, many seniors become anxious or feel helpless once they depend on others. All this stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and even high blood pressure.

Gardening can reduce stress and anxiety and increases self-esteem. Additionally, gardening can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose as well as a connection to nature, enhancing mood and reducing stress and anxiety. 

Studies show that gardening can relieve stress by lowering cortisol levels. This is why many medical facilities use gardening as a form of therapy. For example, substance use disorders are prevalent in military veterans. More precisely, veterans are at a high risk because of stress and PTSD. But experts say that gardening and other hobbies can help with recovery because they relax you. Moreover, they also keep your mind and body focused on something other than your negative thoughts and feelings.

  1. It improves your mood

Gardening can be an excellent way for older adults to improve their mood. One of the best things about gardening is it increases your serotonin levels. This chemical in your brain is very important because it's one of the things that makes you feel happy, calm, and at peace. 

Gardening also encourages creativity, allowing gardeners to design and create their own landscapes. The simple act of growing a living organism will make you feel more hopeful and will improve your mood. This is why gardening is often used in treating depression and other mental illnesses.

Additionally, gardening can help build a sense of community. Finally, gardening provides a purposeful activity that gives an individual a sense of accomplishment and pride when watching their garden grow.

  1. It offers you the chance to make personal connections

Older adults often feel lonely. And it's no wonder since they have an empty nest and many of their old friends are gone. But gardening can offer you the chance to make new personal connections. Sharing plants and gardening tips with neighbors can be a great way for older adults to socialize with others. 

One thing you can do is join a community garden. These places help you meet new like-minded people and socialize. As a result, you'll no longer feel down and isolated. Moreover, this enables you to teach others all you know about gardening and also learn new things yourself. This will consolidate your sense of purpose and increase your self-esteem.

Stay Active and Avoid Isolation

As you get older, you should do everything in your power to stay active and not isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Yes, your health will gradually deteriorate. But you can slow down this process if you take action. So, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, look for ways to improve your health and the quality of your life. 

Consider all the mental and physical health benefits of gardening for older adults. And why stop there? Gardening is one of many pleasant activities older adults can take advantage of to remain active and social.

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About the Author

Evelyn G. Penland has been working as a content writer for four years. She wishes to help people improve their lifestyles so they can live long and happy lives. In her downtime, she enjoys going hiking with friends.

LTC News Contributor Evelyn G. Penland

Evelyn G. Penland

Contributor since March 1st, 2023

Editor's Note

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