7 Ways Older Adults Benefit from Gardening

Sunrise Senior Living  |  April 1, 2019
7 Ways Older Adults Benefit from Gardening
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If you are an older adult who loves gardening, you’ll be happy to know it’s a hobby with a variety of mental and physical health benefits. From lower incidences of depression to greater flexibility, digging in the dirt is a great hobby at any age.

Gardening is a healthy hobby for seniors because it can be adapted to accommodate mobility challenges. It can also be enjoyed despite cognitive decline caused by dementia. Raised beds and container gardens are two of the ways seniors and people with disabilities can safely garden.

In honor of National Garden Month, we are sharing seven reasons why you should consider gardening.

7 Health Benefits of Gardening

  1. Improves mental health: Mental health professionals refer to gardening as “horticultural therapy” because it helps lift the spirit. The very act of creating and caring for a garden focuses the mind, allowing the gardener to become more aware of nature and their surroundings.
  2. Reduces stress and anxiety: If you’ve spent time in a garden, you already know this is one of its most powerful benefits. Digging, deadheading, pruning, and being in the fresh air contribute to a sense of peace and contentment.
  3. Burns calories: Gardening is hard work! As a moderate- to high-intensity form of exercise, it’s a good way to burn calories. Depending on what task you are completing, you can burn up to 330 calories per hour planting and nurturing your garden.
  4. Boosts the immune system: Spending time outdoors in the sun boosts the body’s production of vitamin D. That helps the body better absorb calcium. Both contribute to a stronger body and a healthier immune system. (Just be sure to follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to sunscreen!)
  5. Lowers blood pressure: Physical activity helps manage weight and lower blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute lists gardening as an activity that can help you battle high blood pressure. A few hours a week in the garden is all it takes.
  6. Helps seniors who have dementia: Research from the University of Exeter Medical School revealed that gardening may hold real therapeutic value for seniors who have dementia. Scientists think the combination of mental and physical activity produces a positive effect on the brain.
  7. Promotes flexibility and stamina: Gardening also helps keep the body flexible and strong. Stretching to pull a weed. Reaching up to prune a bush or tree. Carrying yard waste to the compost bin. Walking around the yard. Each of these gardening tasks is good for balance, strength, and reducing the risk of a fall or injury.

Be cautious when gardening; it can be strenuous. If you aren’t currently active, talk with your physician for advice before getting started. Take a few minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles before you get to work in the garden.

Sunrise Residents Enjoy Gardening

At Sunrise Senior Living communities across the country, you’ll find residents interacting and making friends with people in their neighborhoods. One of our most popular activities is gardening! Learn more about how we enable residents to Live With Action each day.

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