There’s just something about playing in the dirt and getting your hands dirty that provides a sense of serenity. Perhaps that’s why this activity is likened by both young and old alike. However, gardening provides more than just a playground or beautiful scenery, it delivers several health benefits to older adults.
Decreases Your Dementia Risk
One study found that gardening could potentially lower the risk for dementia by 36 percent. The study followed men and women over the age of 60 for 16 years and found that engaging in activities, such as gardening, helps to stimulate the brain. This is primarily because gardening requires the use of critical functions, including dexterity and sensory awareness, which in turn helps seniors maintain motor skills and improve strength.
While gardening may not seem like a strenuous or vigorous workout, rest assured that after spending a day in the garden your body will feel it. You’ll be surprised just how many muscles you work in the garden. All that pulling, twisting, and bending. Gardening works all the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back, and abdomen. According to a Kansas State University study, gardening in golden years is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. As silly as it sounds, you should do some light stretching before or after working in the garden to prevent injuries, especially hand injuries common to gardeners, such as carpal tunnel or tendonitis.
Improves Your Immune System
Sounds crazy but it’s true. That dirt under your fingernails is actually helping to regulate your immune system. Plant soil contains the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae, a common garden dirt that has been found to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies, and asthma – all of which may stem from an overactive immune system. In addition to the garden dirt, the sun’s vitamin D that you soak up while being outside gives your body a little extra spunk at fighting off colds and flus.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
A study found that gardening lowers cortisol levels in the brain. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, is responsible for influencing your mood. High levels of cortisol result in high blood pressure and elevated glucose levels. When levels decrease, you usually experience better moods. It doesn’t take much gardening to achieve this positive change either. Just 30 minutes can do wonders to your mood.
If you’re looking for a new hobby that will keep you busy and improve your health, consider spending some extra time outdoors in the garden. There are so many gardening benefits for older adults. Your physical, mental, and emotional health are for sure to benefit!