A blooming garden is appealing to the eyes and its scent is pleasing to the nose. But did you know that gardening isn’t just for increasing the curb appeal for your home? Gardening has loads of health benefits, making it a great consideration for a natural therapy solution for seniors. Gardening keeps your loved one active, healthy, and strong as they age, and it reduces the risk of contracting some avoidable diseases as well. Here are some of the health benefits of gardening for seniors.
1. Burns Calories
Old age reduces mobility, which is why most seniors spend most of their time sitting or sleeping. The challenge, in this case, is that seniors tend to retain calories because of inactivity. Gardening offers an opportunity for seniors to exercise and burn calories when planting and pulling weeds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seniors can burn up to 330 calories an hour when engaging in light gardening and yard work. When walking at a moderate pace, seniors might not even be able to burn that many calories.
2. Reduces the Risk of Dementia
Most seniors tend to suffer dementia, and gardening can address this challenge as well. Since gardening is a physical activity involving cognitive functions, it helps keep the mind active. Studies indicate that daily gardening can lower the risk of dementia by up to 36%, making it great natural therapy for seniors.
Critically thinking about what to plant and how to take care of plants when preparing a garden is paramount, and that can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's among seniors. Driving can also become a challenge for seniors, but regular gardening will help them maintain their motor skills, while improving strength and endurance too.
- Relieves Stress
Sometimes, seniors become anxious about various things, which can be quite stressful. Seniors often experience restlessness or hopeless when they have to depend on someone else. But gardening can give seniors their own outlet and responsibility.
Gardening allows seniors to take care of something, which helps them cultivate a sense of self-worth. This activity can also increase serotonin levels to boost your mood reduce feelings of depression. Thanks to these benefits, “horticulture therapy” is gaining popularity today.
Lowering stress levels can also reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and that explains Additionally, seniors who engage in gardening activities lower their level of cortisol, the "stress hormone," since the soil itself appears to contain bacteria that unlock serotonin to elevate their mood.
- Improves Bone Health
Vitamin D is one of the essential nutrients for the body. It promotes bone formation and is available in foods like milk and fish. Seniors expose their bodies to sunlight while gardening, which allows their bodies to synthesize vitamin D naturally, improving their skeletal health and metabolic functions too.
Seniors need to exercise caution when gardening under the sun by protecting themselves from dehydration and skin burns. Using high-quality sunscreen, taking fluids to stay hydrated, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat are some of the precautions that seniors can take to protect themselves from the harmful effects of sunlight when gardening. Applying high-quality sunscreen can lower the risk of skin cancer as well.
- Creates Social Opportunities
The company of friends, family, and relatives is something that many seniors value. You should note the fact that social interactions are therapeutic, which is part of the reasons why seniors can benefit from caregivers. Isolation gives way to loneliness, which is not healthy for seniors. Seniors who socialize live longer and enjoy better health than their peers who remain in isolation.
Community gardens create social opportunities for seniors by providing a space for meeting and interacting with new and old friends. It also helps provide the satisfaction of growing nutritious foods while beautifying the neighborhood together.
- Boosts Immunity
Getting down and garden dirty may appear a little messy, but it won’t hurt. The presence of mycobacterium vaccae in garden soil can improve the immune system. This exposure can also help alleviate symptoms of various health conditions as well, including depression, allergies, psoriasis, and asthma.
- Promotes Heart Health and Reduces the Risk of Stroke
It is not unusual to see a rise in cases of heart disease and stroke among seniors. Daily exercise is essential because it can eliminate the risk of suffering stroke and heart disease. The fact that your loved one may not exercise as much as they age means that they leave themselves prone to some of the preventable illnesses attacking their peers today.
Gardening is a moderately intense exercise that can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. The vitamin D that seniors take in when gardening under the sun can also reduce the risk of heart disease.
If you aren’t gardening yet, you should! Taking proactive action can help seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle longer. Gardening is a natural remedy that seniors should embrace because of the multiple health benefits it yields. To learn more about how seniors can promote their own health, review our free downloadable resource: A Patient’s Guide to Avoiding Hospital Readmissions.