The health advantages of gardening for elderly ones are so voluminous. It is a gentle but complete workout. Even in an average garden, you can easily move on the terrain, empty the wheel-barrow and chase away cat from the Begonias.
According to studies, getting down and dirty in the garden is a great way of boosting mental and physical health.
Whether you are living alone or at an adult care facility, gardening allows you to exercise your body as well as your brain.
It is also a nice form of therapy and responsibility. Consider the bending, reaching, lifting, squatting, mowing, raking, digging, and hoeing, you will discover you put all your body into physical activities.
Gardening burns the calories and also keeps us agile, strong, and active.
The Better Health Channel stated that there are many health and therapeutic advantages of gardening for elders.
Benefits of Gardening for the Aged
If you are into gardening already or you are thinking of joining in, check the number of benefits associated with the activity:
- Burns Calories
Gardening can be a tough activity, based on the task you do and the duration of doing it. You could burn about 330 calories with just one hour of gardening.
Also, if you garden for 3 to 4 hours, you could burn as many calories you would burn if you were at the gym. This is made possible through basic tasks involved in gardening, such as raking, mowing, or trimming hedges.
Therefore, 30 to 45 minutes of gardening is recommended by the National Institute of Health 3 to 5 times weekly.
This could be the best solution for those that want to stay away from the gym, making gardening the perfect exercise for people who prefer low-intensity workouts.
2. Improved Immune System
Also, your body will be able to take in much Vitamin D from the sun. This means, Vitamin D can assist your body in absorbing calcium, which then, can strengthen your bones and keep your immune system healthy.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common among the adults, and it was revealed by studies that 1 in 5 elderly persons doesn’t have it in their immune systems.
The level of Vitamin D in your body is increased when you spend more time outdoors and under the sun. This then enables you to take in more calcium, which strengthens the bones and the immune system the more.
3. It keeps you Active
Even though swimming, walking, as well as weight-reducing exercise are all nice ways to keep physically fit in retirement, if you don’t like it, you may find it hard to keep up to a routine.
Fortunately, if you love gardening so much and spend a lot of time working on your garden, chances are you are already meeting your daily exercise goal.
Elders of age 65 and above are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to perform the moderate-intensity exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week to keep and improve their health. This includes dancing, walking, and swimming.
However, gardening was discovered by a study published in the American Society for Horticultural Society to be a part of the recommended physical activity for adults (63 – 85 years old).
4. Boosts your Mood
Many find being outdoors in nature and listening to the sounds of nature relaxing, but when you are also in a garden, you will also notice an improvement to your mood.
Mood increment was discovered when participating in horticultural tasks than just sitting in nature, according to a study that was published In J-Stage.
A 2-hours of gardening, according to the researcher are the best stress reducer with the largest record of mood improvement from study participants.
Meanwhile, gardening was found by a study published by the United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health to be perfect for mental health when compared with reading. While the levels of cortisol when you sit down with a book is the other way, the results among those who prefer to spend their time gardening were highly stronger.
5. It is an Alternative to Physical Activity
Right now, we understand that getting sufficient physical activity all through the week is important for our wellness, but are you aware that gardening is also a form of exercise?
Gardening is one great option for hitting the gym, as it takes your body to move and change positions, which ensures joint flexibility and strength.
Also, it can even serve as more of a workout than a brisk walk.
Gardening is a mild way for the elderly to achieve the necessary physical activity that is ideal for muscle development and heart health.
6. Makes your Life Meaningful
Whether retirement is turning chaotic to you or that you have unlimited hours to fill, gardening can enable you to give your life structuring and bring back routine into your life.
You will have to water your plants every day, ensure they are absorbing the right amount of sun, and sometimes do some pruning.
As you grow older, gardening can give you some sense of independence. Adding to community gardens in adult care and residential facilities can provide you the feeling of accomplishment and therefore increase independence.
- Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease
Even though heavy gardening will help you in weight maintenance, it will also lower the chances of heart disease and other severe diseases.
With 30 minutes of average-level physical activity just a few times a week, you can prevent and keep high blood pressure under control.
Gardening sits atop the list of recommended activities for tackling high blood pressure by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
- Gardening May Reduce the Risk of Dementia
There is a suggestion by some research that the physical activity involved with gardening can help reduce the risk of dementia. Two different studies that surveyed people in their 60s and 70s for about 16 years discovered respectively, that people who gardened more often had a 36% and 47% lower chances of developing dementia than those who don’t involve themselves in gardening, even when there were numerous factors considered. Dementia is so much impactful that it can change one’s life. So prevention is highly necessary.
- Gardening Reduces the Chances of Osteoporosis
When you cut, dig, weed, plant, and perform repetitive tasks that involve stretching or strength, the entire muscle is receiving a good workout.
10. Stress Relief
Gardening as an exercise can be perfect for you as it helps to release the hormones known as endorphins that aid the feeling of being satisfied and relaxed in people. Furthermore, being outdoors and under the sun could also lead to improvement of your mood.
Just like Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression sets in during the winter months where there is no sunlight.
Cortisol is the stress hormone in your brain and according to experts, is reduced through gardening. Too much cortisol in the brain affects the memory and learning ability of a person.
There is no need for you to push a heavy wheelbarrow around to protect your muscles from weakening. Just a few hours of gardening every week will give you the sufficiently required workout.
- It aids Community Improvement
Regardless of where you live currently, whether on your own or in a retirement home, planting vegetables and fruits in a garden can lead to the improvement of your community.
This will not only give your surrounding area a great and colorful look, but it will also disperse more oxygen into the air, bringing improvement to the environment. The fruits and vegetables grown in your garden can also be donated to your local food store as it was done at Chartwell Chatsworth Retirement Residence located in Kelowna, BC.
Things to Plant
Thinking about what to plant to start your garden? There are numerous plant ideas you can lay your hands on.
Seniors and their families during the season can work together to plant tasty vegetables on containers or cultivated soil.
Cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli grow from seedling during spring. The same applies to tomatoes and peppers at the start of summer. Even though blueberries will need some room to spread, they also can grow in small spaces.
Flowers are grown any time of the year, but when growing them in a garden (outdoor), the best is to limit them to the flowers in your local area. You don’t need a multi-flowered garden as native flowers are easy to maintain.
Flowers that beautify a garden are:
- Purple coneflower
- Black-eyed Susan
- Grape hyacinth
Health Considerations in the Garden
You have to consider some mental, physical, and age-related factors when seniors work in the garden, but they should not shield them from enjoying the garden. These include:
- Skin: Fragile, sensitive skin exposes seniors to bumps, sunburn, and bruises.
- Vision: Eye lens structure experience changes, loss of peripheral vision, as well as overall poorer vision can limit activities.
- Mental abilities: Dementia and related conditions may affect thinking, mental health, and memory abilities.
- Body temperature: Exposure to temperature changes and the possibility of dehydration or suffering from heat exhaustion are popular concerns with older people during outdoor physical activity.
Basic Gardening Tips to help you
Regardless of your desired plant, plan for successful gardening by following these tips:
- During outdoors planting, figure out what works best in the sunlight or covered areas of your garden. Vegetables, flowers, and fruits grow on different soils.
- Make sure your water source is close-by to irrigate plants easily if they are not getting sufficient rainfall. Consider a hoe or light watering can.
- Add between two to three inches of mulch around the individual plant to make sure moisture doesn’t get exhausted and also put pests under control.
- You may or may not need plant food or fertilizer, but if you do use it, choose organic.
- Make sure you have clippers, hand trowel, gardening fork, spade, and thick gloves in place.
- The health advantages of gardening for the elderly don’t stop after planting everything. Be sure to make the garden adult-friendly by placing comfortable chairs or benches below any areas with shade. Rest there and enjoy the scenery.
- Enter and work in the garden in the mornings and evenings when the temperature is friendly.
- Put on gardening gloves, strong shoes, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.
- During the watering and pulling of weeds under the hot sun, make sure you are hydrated. Drink enough water.
- Treat any cuts, insect bites, or bruises instantly.
- Be careful in the use of power tools.
- Lock gates and fences if concerned with memory loss.
- Make sure the paths and walkways are flat and clear of any slippery components.
- Warm-up before you start tending to the garden and take frequent breaks.
- Work in the garden early in the morning or late in the evening to prevent sun exposure. Put on a hat and sunscreen more often.
- Drink only water or juice, absolutely NO to alcohol.
- Keep garden equipment safely.
Generally, gardening more often is proven to be perfect for you in so many ways. From health-related advantages that can help lower the risk of heart diseases to assisting you in relaxing after a hectic day.
What more is important than getting fit keeping a healthy lifestyle while making your garden a suitable environment you will want to stay longer in?
Gardening is longer to be seen as a chore, but rather an investment aimed at keeping you healthy and well.