7 Benefits of Gardening For Seniors (#2 May Surprise You!)

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Senior man gardening with a child

The origins of this quote may be unknown, but I’d agree that it’s certainly an accurate statement!

Maybe you’re an experienced gardener, or perhaps you’re taking it up as a new hobby in retirement.

Either way, gardening is a popular activity for people in their golden years. 

But do the benefits of gardening for seniors go beyond just being an enjoyable pastime?

Well, how does the potential for better mental, emotional and physical health sound? If you’re like most people, that sounds pretty good.  

In this article, we’ll explore the 7 ways that gardening can benefit you as an older individual. There’s even scientific proof to back most of these points up! 

Ready to add some more life to your years? Let’s get started! 

Benefits Of Gardening For Seniors

Is your goal to grow vegetables or fruits for your own use or to share? Do you prefer to grow beautiful flower gardens that brighten your landscape? Maybe you even do some of both! 

Whatever the case may be, regularly caring for your garden can benefit you in these 7 ways. 

Let’s look at each one in detail.

1. Provides Light to Moderate Exercise

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 33% of men and 50% of women over the age of 75 get no physical activity at all on most days. 

That’s not good, especially since the CDC goes on to list several ways that exercise benefits older people:

  • May help lower blood pressure for certain people
  • Stronger muscles lead to less risk for falling
  • Less risk of dying from coronary artery disease
  • Can help you maintain a more independent lifestyle

And these are only a few of the benefits of regular exercise! 

So here’s how this point ties into gardening. 

What are some tasks that first spring to mind when you think of gardening? You might answer digging, pulling weeds, watering plants or moving materials like soil or compost. 

Now, what do all those tasks have in common? They all require physical effort and movement. 

It’s not hard to see why gardening is a great way to get some exercise! 

To top it off, many of these tasks are recurrent, so you have a whole season of ongoing activity. 

2. Reduced Risk for Dementia

It’s probably safe to say that no one wants to think about the possibility of themselves or a loved one developing dementia. Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common reality in this day and age. 

The good news is that there are strategies that show promise for reducing your risk for dementia. Gardening is one of them! 

Why is that? 

Gardening involves several cognitive functions, like problem-solving, decision-making and fine motor skills. 

All these activities can help keep your mental faculties sharp and fight against dementia.

In fact, one study found that seniors who worked in their gardens every day had a 36% lower risk for developing dementia!

Spending time with loved ones and friends is another way to lessen your dementia risk. Which leads to the next point….

3. Social Interaction

Working in your garden may conjure up images of a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to! At all!!

Gardening with your loved ones or in a group setting is the perfect way to spend time laughing, talking and sharing a common interest with someone else.

It’s also a fantastic way to learn new techniques and share some of your own knowledge! 

Two seniors in a garden watering flowers

Working in your garden may conjure up images of a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to! At all!!

Gardening with your loved ones or in a group setting is the perfect way to spend time laughing, talking and sharing a common interest with someone else.

It’s also a fantastic way to learn new techniques and share some of your own knowledge! 

4. Lower Stress Levels

Doesn’t it seem like stress levels are increasing everywhere you turn? Whether it’s financial, political, family or any other concern, there’s no shortage of things to worry about.

You might even feel like the older you get, the more the stressors pile up.

Gardening to the rescue!

In one study, researchers found that 30 minutes of gardening was more effective for reducing stress levels than 30 minutes of reading.

So how does this work?

Gardening can be a great way to turn your mind away from problems you can’t solve and towards ones you can.

For example: You may not be able to change some circumstances around you, but you can clear this garden bed of weeds!

Also, focusing on a physical task provides your mind with a healthy distraction from some of life’s stressors.

What’s more, watching the plants in your care thrive and grow can provide a deeply satisfying feeling of accomplishment and peacefulness.

5. Fresh Air

Did you know that the indoor air quality in most homes contains at least some level of potentially harmful substances? 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists these substances as a few of the most common indoor air pollutants:

  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Formaldehyde 

Yikes! 

For a number of reasons, many older people develop a shallower breathing pattern as part of the aging process.

This may result in your lung  bringing in less oxygen and becoming less efficient at clearing harmful substances from your lungs.

Even if you take steps to improve your indoor air quality, it just can’t compare to the outdoors! 

Senior woman outside breathing in fresh air

Working in your garden is a great way to stay busy and deeply breathing the fresh outdoor air. 

Not only that, but by caring for plants that produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, you’re helping to improve your local air quality overall. 

6. Improved Mobility

Generally speaking, mobility is much easier to maintain than it is to regain.

In other words, your best strategy for future mobility is to stay mobile today

Strong core muscles are often the key to healthy mobility. What are core muscles and why are they important?

The core muscle groups include those in your abdomen, sides and low back. To make almost any body movement, you engage these core muscles. 

So needless to say, promoting core strength is crucial. By doing so, you set the stage for better balance, endurance and continued mobility. 

Many garden-related tasks require you to use your core muscles to reach and bend. So regularly working in your garden helps strengthen your core through repetition. 

Is your mobility or core strength already decreased? Don’t despair!

There are many adaptive and clever gardening tools that are ideal for seniors. With the right tools, you can probably accomplish more garden tasks than you think! 

7. Sunshine

Doesn’t it just feel good to step outdoors and let the sunlight warm your skin? I sure think so! 

Beyond that good feeling, though, sunlight has far more benefits to offer (when approached in a safe way!) with Vitamin D production being chief among them. 

You’ve probably heard that Vitamin D is good for you and you should get more of it. But what is it exactly, and why is it important? 

According to Healthline, Vitamin D plays a major role in several body processes, including these:

  • Immune system support
  • Calcium and phosphorus absorption
  • Reduces risk for heart disease
  • Can help ease depression symptoms

Sounds good, right? So how does gardening come into play?

Well, as your skin absorbs the sun’s rays, special cells in your body produce Vitamin D. Working in your garden is a great way to get some daily sun exposure.

NOTE: Be sure to set safe sun limits! Sunlight is healthy in small doses, but you can definitely get too much of a good thing. 

Here are a few tips for staying safe in the sun:

How long? Aim for about 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure each day. If you have darker skin, you may need a little more time than that since darker skin tones absorb sunlight at a slower rate. 

When? Not all sunlight is created equal. The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 10 AM and 2 PM, so try to get outside for a short time then. 

Final Thoughts

Yes, the benefits of gardening for seniors are many!

Best of all, it’s an inexpensive hobby that you can practice almost anywhere and with any skill level. To top it all off, you also have access to fresh, chemical-free vegetables and fruit. 

So why not start reaping the benefits of gardening today?

What do you think? Which of these benefits is the most exciting for you? Have you experienced any other positive aspects of gardening as a senior? Do you have any questions? 

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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One Comment

  1. Yeah!!! It’s great to know that all the time spent in my gardens and doing yard work is good for my health! Excellent article!

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