As nature comes into bloom, the warmer weather draws most of us outdoors. Maintaining a garden is a great activity for older adults in both summer and spring. It is a fun and purposeful activity that offers plenty of health benefits. Learn more about some gardening benefits that you stand to enjoy.
Studies have shown that gardening is a great activity that helps to lower stress levels in older adults. The activity is also able to reduce high blood pressure. One study got participants to perform a stressful task before being directed to the garden or to read for half an hour. Both groups showed lowered stress levels. However, the group that gardened showcased a greater decline in cortisol while also exhibiting a positive mood.
Serotonin is a chemical found in the brain that boosts our mood and enhances feelings of peace and calmness. Some studies have shown a connection between gardening and a reduction in depression symptoms. Another study has also shown that getting in contact with a certain bacteria found in soil can trigger the release of serotonin which works as a natural remedy against depression. This has also been used in horticulture therapy for older adults to help them stay positive.
Boosts Heart Health
Gardening is not an intense activity but it does count towards the recommended 30-minute of daily exercise needed by older adults. A study found that gardening on a regular basis can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke for people over the age of 60 by at least 30 percent. In addition, staying outdoors while gardening will also provide vitamin D which further reduces the risk of heart disease.
Apart from being a form of exercise, gardening also helps older adults to maintain their mobility and body strength. Engaging underused muscles, gardening has shown to be a productive way to help older adults rebuild their mobility and strength after suffering from a stroke.
Boosts Brain Health
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown and so is its prevention. However, research has shown that leading a positive life does have an impact on the risk of developing the disease. Gardening is an activity that can help us maintain positivity in life as it engages critical functions like problem-solving, dexterity, sensory awareness, and endurance. Studies have also shown that gardening can help to reduce the risk of developing dementia by at least 36 percent.
Gardening Tips for Older Adults
- Potted Plants or Raised Beds: Using these can help to prevent back strain and feelings of dizziness. It will also be much easier to reach your plants if they are at waist level.
- Switch to Lightweight Tools and Buckets: Make use of lightweight items that can ease the physical stress of gardening.
- Protect Yourself from the Sun: The sun does give us vitamin D but extended exposure to its harmful UV rays can cause us to have skin issues.
- Have Ready Seating: Always prepare a seating area in your garden. If you feel faint while gardening, take a rest before proceeding to complete the work.