The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the weather is finally warming up. There’s a good chance you’ve spotted potting soil or starter planters outside of your grocery store – but what if you’ve never gardened before? You may shrug it off and tell yourself, “Gardening just isn’t for me.” But try not to be so hasty. Gardening is a fantastic activity for seniors to enjoy, particularly during the spring and summer months. Not only is gardening a fun and satisfying pastime, but it also offers a number of physical and mental benefits. Find out more about the benefits of gardening for seniors, and get ready to slip into your gardening gloves.
Benefits of Gardening for Seniors
Time Outside = Vitamin D
Gardening is a fabulous way to spend a little more time in the sunshine. And while a day in the great outdoors can do a lot for your mood, did you know it can also benefit your bone health? A 2014 study published on the National Institutes of Health website found that exposure to sunlight helped older adults achieve adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D, in turn, increases your calcium levels for stronger bones and teeth. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Emotional and Cognitive Benefits
We mentioned that time in the garden can boost your mood – but have you ever wondered how that works? Some studies have linked gardening to reduced depression symptoms via serotonin, a chemical in the brain that increases feelings of happiness and calm. Another study suggests that gardening fights stress even more effectively than other hobbies; finally, a 2006 study found that gardening could lower risk of dementia by as much as 36 percent. Those are some pretty astonishing statistics for a little time spent in the garden.
Gardening Gets You Moving
You might not think about gardening as a great form of exercise; however, activities like standing up, kneeling down, pushing a wheelbarrow, pulling weeds, and reaching for tools can all help you break a sweat while building stamina and flexibility. WebMD found that planting and pulling weeds can help you burn up to 400 calories an hour. With just a few hours of gardening a week, those burned calories can really start to add up.
How to Get Started
Excited about the benefits of gardening for seniors, but not sure where to start? You don’t have to go it alone. Gardening can be a great community activity, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Start by visiting the American Community Gardening Association website, which offers a locator tool for finding a nearby community garden. The association writes that community gardening provides a “catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education.” You can also reach out to neighbors, friends, or family members about starting a small plot together.
As the warmer weather draws us outdoors, it’s time to take advantage of the benefits of gardening for seniors. Sure, cultivating your garden is fun – but it can also help you burn calories, boost your mood, and even reduce your risk of dementia. And did we mention that gardening adds serious curb appeal? Give it a try today.
Are you planning to retire in Greenville, South Carolina? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or give us a call at 864-713-1377.