5 Benefits of Gardening for Older Adults: Stimulating the Mind & Body
The health benefits of gardening for seniors are plentiful. Studies show working in the garden is an excellent way to boost mental and physical health. Gardening forces you to exercise your body and your brain, promoting overall health, and is a great form of therapy and community involvement. As nature comes into bloom, the warmer weather is drawing us outdoors. Cultivating a garden is a great hobby for seniors in spring and summer. It’s fun, purposeful and even provides numerous health benefits. Learn more about the benefits of gardening for seniors and how it promotes successful aging.
Improves Mood & Lowers Stress
A study in the Journal of Health Psychology stated that gardening can lower cortisol levels in your brain. Cortisol is necessary for sustaining body functions, but it is also known as the stress hormone. When there is too much cortisol, blood pressure and glucose levels may fluctuate. Gardening provides light aerobic exercise for seniors, which causes an increase in the production of dopamine and serotonin. These two hormones are considered happy hormones, and their presence improves moods and encourages positive emotion. This type of light exercise decreases levels of the stress hormone, which means seniors who garden will have improved moods and feel less stress, both of which promote successful aging.
Decreases Risk of Depression
There are wonderful mental benefits of gardening for seniors. As previously mentioned, gardening can increase the production of happy hormones and reduce stress hormone levels. This ideal balance of chemicals in the brain can reduce the risk of depression. Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found in garden soil, mimics the effects of some antidepressants, stimulating serotonin production without any of the side effects associated with the medication.
Promotes Overall Health
Digging in the dirt, planting seeds, pulling weeds — all of which require the use of the hands and arms, can help seniors improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination, keeping the brain and body in sync. Gardening also stimulates the rest of the body by encouraging seniors to bend, squat, stretch, push and pull. This engages sedentary muscles, strengthening them to help aging adults maintain their mobility and physical health. Only a few hours of gardening each week provides seniors with the kind of low-intensity workout they need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors can burn up to 330 calories an hour when engaging in light gardening and yard work. Tending to a garden regularly can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, colon cancer and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D from sun exposure is essential for senior health. Vitamin D helps regulate moods and supports a healthy immune system, as well as supports calcium absorption to improve bone health. Having strong bones and a healthy immune system is a concern for many aging adults and sun exposure from gardening can help. While soaking up the sun does have its benefits, make sure to protect yourself from harmful UV rays and sunburn by wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat when you garden.
Reduces Risk of Dementia
Gardening has both physical and mental demands and requires critical thinking and problem solving. This keeps an aging mind active, which can be beneficial for reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Gardening also helps those with dementia as it stimulates multiple senses at once, helping them connect to their present physical environment.
Successful Aging at Tiffany Springs
Now that prime gardening weather is here, get outdoors and start gardening! As you can see, there are several great benefits for senior health just from gardening. If you can’t get outdoors to garden, think about starting a mini garden on a windowsill or in a terrarium. These options can allow you to experience some of the benefits of gardening and enjoy the vibrancy of new life within the safety and comfort of the indoors.
At Tiffany Springs Senior Living, we cultivate vibrant daily activities that promote successful aging, including a community garden club, that residents love and look forward to everyday. You’ll be supported by impeccable services and a gracious, caring staff who are always thinking of how best to inspire you. When you add that to the rest of our offerings – like a full continuum of care – it’s no wonder that so many in the Kansas City area choose to live here. Find out what we can do for you when you contact us today.