The birds are singing, the smell of fresh-cut grass is in the air, and for many, thoughts turn to gardening. Whether you plant your flowers and vegetables in containers on your patio or in a large traditional garden, there are numerous health, physical, psychological and mental benefits of gardening for seniors.
PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF GARDENING
Planting and tending to a garden has many physical benefits. In addition to getting exercise, you use many of your motor skills. This helps increase your mobility, flexibility, endurance and strength. Even if you feel limited in your physical ability to garden, there are modified tools available to assist you in enjoying your garden. The Ohio State University offers a variety of tips and ideas for everyone to get involved in the garden, even if you are limited in your mobility.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARDENING
Everyone knows that fresh air and sunshine can enhance your well-being. Stepping into the sun promotes the absorption of vitamin D, which has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis and improve mood. Vitamin D benefits both your mind and your body, improving your overall wellness.
Another, not quite as well known, health benefit of gardening comes from the soil itself. Bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae may stimulate your immune system and boost serotonin. Spending some time playing in the dirt has been shown to alleviate symptoms of allergies, asthma, psoriasis and even depression.
MENTAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF GARDENING
Working in your garden stimulates all your senses. It reduces stress and provides a relaxing activity. It provides additional opportunities for social interactions and to develop friendships as you interact with others who share your interest in gardening.
As we age, we sometimes find ourselves with a diminishing sense of purpose and control in our lives. Caring for plants allows us to produce and nurture a living thing. Looking at beautiful flowers or eating fresh produce that you have planted, cared for and brought to fruition is one of the most satisfying experiences in life.
So, grab a trowel, put in a garden, plant flowers, or start a tomato plant in a container on your patio…it’s good for you!