There is a magical feeling that comes with being able to cultivate a beautiful garden. When we see the fruits of our labor, our hearts can’t help but swell with happiness and pride. Gardening is known to have impressive effects on the mind and body, and the benefits of gardening for seniors are even more noticeable and profound.
The joy of gardening can enrich our lives. Gardening also encourages us to be physically active as our gardens require regular care, and our engagement and involvement with them. Let us explore the numerous benefits of gardening for seniors.
Gardening Is an Enjoyable Form of Exercise
Gardening is an enjoyable low impact exercise that encourages physical activity as it involves squatting, pulling, stretching and lifting while we tend to our plants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gardening for 2.5 hours a week can reduce health risks in seniors. It can also improve balance, which is vital for preventing falls from occurring. In addition, gardening offers an opportunity for us to burn calories, increase mobility, and strengthen our muscles and bones. Oftentimes, it also provides us with a boost of energy.
Gardening Gives You Vitamin D
When we are outdoors, the sun’s rays help our bodies to produce vitamin D, which is essential in calcium absorption for maintaining good bone health. Vitamin D also has a part to play in strengthening our immune systems. Hence, when we do gardening regularly, we can get our dose of natural vitamin D! However, do keep yourself hydrated and exercise caution when you are gardening under strong sunlight. Remember to protect your skin with a high-quality sunscreen too.
Gardening Boosts Your Immunity and Mood
Although soil is often associated with dirt, it is full of amazing secrets. Mycobacterium vaccae, also known as the happiness bacteria, is one such secret – it is present in garden soil! This happiness bacteria is an antidepressant that increases the production of serotonin, which can lift your mood and make you feel happier. It can also build up your immune system! At the same time, exposure to the happiness bacteria can also help ease symptoms of various health conditions such as allergies, psoriasis, asthma and depression.
Gardening Stimulates Your Mind and Senses
Gardening provides us with opportunities for connecting with nature, and empowers us by giving us a sense of control when we care for our plants. While gardening, our minds are also constantly engaged with the designing, planning and selection of suitable plants for our garden. When we are motivated to learn about new gardening projects, our mental faculties are being stimulated as well. Gardening also engages all our five senses of sound, smell, taste, sight and touch. Having this form of stimulation and contact with nature is known to reduce stress, promote calmness, and lower blood pressure.
Gardening Provides Opportunities for Social Interactions
Gardening in community gardens provide occasions for us to meet fellow gardeners. Since gardening is a common interest, it can serve as a basis for connecting with others and creating friendships. This social connection allows us to receive mutual support, and as we contribute to others’ lives, we can guard against feelings of loneliness and isolation. Community gardening also provides a sense of shared purpose through environmental nurturing, and communal achievement through teamwork when harvesting our produce.
There are indeed many benefits of gardening for seniors. In a nutshell, gardening promotes physical activity and mental well-being. Community gardening projects are especially beneficial for seniors too as they create opportunities for social interactions. A safe and supportive environment, in conjunction with suitable gardening tools, can make for rewarding and satisfying experiences for us all. Come on, let’s bring out the tools and start digging!