Gardening can be incredibly therapeutic. As winter draws to a close and spring beckons, spending time in nature can instantly brighten your day. Cultivating a garden is a wonderful way to spend the warmer months of spring and summer. Here are some benefits of gardening for seniors that you should know about.
Gardening can lower cortisol levels, which in turn relieves stress and reduces high blood pressure. A study was done in which two groups of participants were given a stressful task to perform. After the task, one group was instructed to do gardening and the other group was asked to read. The participants who went gardening showed a greater decline in cortisol levels than those who read! The gardening group also exhibited a more positive mood overall. Being outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, and working at cultivating something beautiful can lift your spirits.
A study found that contact with a particular type of bacteria in soil releases serotonin in the brain, which is a chemical that increases feelings of happiness and makes you feel calm. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. As such, by increasing serotonin levels, gardening has been proven to help reduce symptoms of depression.
If your loved ones are not able to work in an outdoor garden, don’t fret! Tending to indoor plants can also achieve similar positive effects. A small indoor garden on your window sill can also help improve your mood. Some plants that are recommended for cultivation are arrowhead vines, Chinese evergreens, philodendrons, and vinca vines.
Boosts Heart Health
Gardening can count towards your recommended daily exercise as it is a moderately intense activity. For those over the age of 60, studies have found that gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30%! Being out in the sun also increases your vitamin D levels, which in turn can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Other health benefits of vitamin D include maintaining bone and teeth health, regulating insulin levels, and supporting lung function and cardiovascular health. Just be sure that you’re always protected by sunscreen when you’re under the sun. Remember to wear clothes with long sleeves, and don a hat and sunglasses too!
As with many exercises, gardening helps increase strength and mobility. It engages multiple muscle groups in your body and has been used as a way of rebuilding strength and mobility following life-changing events like a stroke.
Boosting Brain Health
Gardening has been shown to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s as well as dementia. This is because gardening is not only a physical exercise but also a workout for the mind. When you garden, you engage critical mental functions such as problem-solving, dexterity, sensory awareness, and endurance. Gardening is an activity that can also help stave off loneliness, as it connects you deeply to the earth around you. Other mental health and brain-boosting benefits of gardening include a decrease in stress levels and an increase in mental clarity and feelings of satisfaction and contentment.
Get into Gardening Today!
Gardening is a labor of love that provides a variety of benefits for both your body and soul. The best part is, you’re also creating something beautiful and long-lasting, as well as keeping the earth healthy. There’s no doubt that gardening will keep your body and mind sharp. It is a great hobby that seniors should adopt.