Finding an enjoyable activity that is not too physically demanding, but does provide some exercise, can be a bit of a challenge for older adults.
Decreased mobility and chronic joint pain can make it tough for seniors to stay active.
However, engaging in an interesting hobby can have a variety of benefits for seniors, in addition to physical activity.
Finding the right balance between comfort and activity can make all the difference for seniors that wish to remain independent.
Gardening is exactly that for a lot of seniors, providing the perfect harmony between physical exertion and relaxation. Gardening can provide stimulation for the body and mind, while offering a number of other potential benefits.
Perks of Gardening for Seniors
There are many advantages to getting into gardening for seniors. Most older adults that have adopted gardening as a hobby report an array of therapeutic health benefits.
Some potential benefits of gardening for seniors, can include:
- Physical activity
- Mental benefits
- Social engagement
- Fresh air and sunshine
- Stress relief
One of the greatest benefits of gardening for older adults is that it keeps them physically active.
Just doing physical exercise for the sake of physical exercise can get boring in a hurry. If there is no interest in a physical activity, it is very difficult to keep it up long-term.
Gardening, on the other hand offers specific goals which people can literally see develop and grow on a daily basis.
Being able to see the fruits of your labor is excellent motivation to keep it going.
Light lifting, bending, squatting, stretching, and walking are just a few of the kinds of physical exercise gardening has to offer.
Even just an hour of gardening a day is all it takes to stay active.
Aside from the physical benefits, there are also several mental perks to be enjoyed through gardening.
Gardening can actually help the mind stay stimulated and relaxed at the same time. There are a lot of things to think about and consider when it comes to gardening.
It all starts with good planning and organization. Once the plot has been established, the next thing to decide on is the type of garden you wish to plant, and the various vegetation that will be cultivated.
Maintaining a garden requires a lot of care and attention, so it will keep the mind active and focused.
Gardening can also be very relaxing for the mind, helping to melt away worry and anxiety.
Gardening can be a great social activity as well. Yes, gardening can be done as a solo activity, but there is also plenty of opportunity for social interaction.
Neighbors may combine efforts and resources in order to produce the best results, sharing the yields of all the hard work.
Community gardens are also a great opportunity for social engagement. A community garden provides people with a shared space and a common goal. This a perfect chance to meet new people to share in the satisfaction of creating something good and useful.
Just the physical, mental, and social benefits alone should be enough reason to get involved in gardening.
But then there is also the benefit of what is produced as a result of the entire operation: fresh fruit and vegetables.
Good health starts with good nutrition. Without the essential vitamins and minerals that are required by the body for daily function, optimal health could never be achieved.
Nutrients are the building blocks for a healthy immune system, to help prevent disease and illness.
Fresh Air and Sunshine
Continuing on the topic of nutrients, vitamin D is an essential vitamin that is required for several bodily functions and can help protect the body from disease.
One of the best sources of vitamin D is the sun. Vitamin D is required for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin D deficiency in seniors can lead to osteoporosis, which is a medical condition where the bones become weak and brittle.
Don’t forget to wear sunscreen though, the sun may provide a source of vitamin D, but it can also cause serious damage to the skin.
Research has shown a positive association between gardening and reduced stress and anxiety in seniors.
Studies have shown that gardening helps decrease cortisol levels in the body, which is known as the stress hormone.
Regular exercise, mental stimulation, social activity, fresh air, sunlight, and nutritious food can all help contribute to reduced stress.