Older adults looking for a fun and rewarding hobby that gets them outdoors and keeps them active are turning to gardening. Whether it’s tending to the flower beds surrounding their home or planting and caring for a backyard vegetable patch, many seniors are venturing outside and finding that gardening offers them benefits they can’t find when they’re cooped up inside watching television.
Many of the activities necessary to maintaining a vibrant, lush and beautiful garden are also excellent, low impact exercises. Pulling weeds and reaching for gardening tools are both gentle stretching movements that keep muscles and joints flexible. The repeated bending while planting, weeding or picking vegetables and walking through the garden to water plants are both good forms of aerobic exercise.
And because many people are passionate about their plants, they become absorbed in their work and don’t even realize they’ve been exercising or that they’ve been out in the garden for as long as they have. While this means that proper precautions must be taken to limit overexposure to the sun, it also means that a senior’s bones and immune system are getting a boost from the Vitamin D they’re absorbing from the sunlight.
Some research is showing that gardening can have a positive impact on cognitive health as well. One study suggested that physical activities like those associated with gardening could lower a person’s risk of developing dementia later in life.
Gardening can also have significant emotional benefits for