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Sowing Seeds of Happiness: Gardening for Seniors

by Jessica Hegg March 30, 2023 0 Comments

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As we age, staying active is more important than ever, but it’s crucial to find an activity that you enjoy as much as your body does. Many would agree that gardening is the perfect hobby for people of all ages, stimulating the body and mind. Plus, you’ll be sure to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor!

How exactly can gardening boost your health? What are some ways to make gardening for seniors easy and enjoyable? Find out here!

Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

There’s practically no end to the healthy benefits of gardening. Find a few of our favorites below.

  • Improves Physical Fitness and Mobility

    Weekly workouts are a great way to keep your muscles active, but most exercise routines don’t cover every muscle group. That’s why incorporating other kinds of physical activity is so important. The planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting help engage your core muscles, which are often overlooked.

    It might sound like a lot, but it’s more manageable than you might realize. The best thing about gardening is that you do a little every day, meaning you never have to overexert yourself.

  • Lowers Stress

    Did you know gardening reduces stress? It’s true–spending time outdoors doing something you love can help lower levels of cortisol and reduce blood pressure. There are a number of reasons for this, including getting more sunlight, breathing fresh air, and engaging in a calming activity on a daily basis.

    If you’re looking for other ways to lower your cortisol levels, check out our complete guide here.

  • Boosts Heart Health

    Fitness experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise. While this might sound like a lot, consider that activities like walking and, yes, even gardening can count as moderately intense exercise. That means keeping a garden will get your heart pumping faster, making it stronger in the long term.

    But the benefits don’t stop there! In fact, research shows that gardening is as good as exercise when it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s been shown to be especially effective for people over sixty.

    Our list of 50 Cardio Exercises for Seniors can give you even more ideas for ways touch your heart pumping.

  • Fills Your Plate With Green

    Of course, gardening is more than hard work. After you’ve spent months raising your plants, you’ll finally get to pick them and enjoy them in your meals. Whether you use your vegetables in salads, pasta sauce, or stir-fry is up to you, but you can be sure they’ll taste better than store-bought.

    If you didn’t know, experts recommend two to three cups of vegetables per day. Reaching that goal will be much easier when the produce aisle is right in your backyard!

    How to build balanced snacks using what you harvest from your garden

  • Gives an Extra Dose of Serotonin

    Serotonin is a chemical produced in our body that promotes feelings of calmness and well-being. It’s an important factor in fighting back against depression, and in fact, many of the most popular antidepressant drugs are made to regulate your body’s absorption of serotonin.

    But before you make an appointment with your doctor, you might want to make a trip to the hardware store first. That’s because gardening has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression in older adults. There are a number of reasons for this, including increased sunlight, a better diet, and increased exercise. There’s even a type of bacteria found in soil that triggers the release of serotonin in the brain. Once you get planting, you’ll be sure to feel the effects yourself. 

  • Fights Back Against Alzheimer’s

    One of the best ways to slow the advance of Alzheimer’s is to keep the mind active. Activities that involve problem-solving, dexterity, and sensory awareness are all good ways to stimulate the mind. Your first instinct might be to reach for a puzzle or brain-teaser, but actually, gardening can work just as well. It requires you to activate your fine motor skills, think critically, and use your senses on a daily basis, making it a great defense against Alzheimer’s.

  • Builds Self-Esteem

    Any gardener with experience will tell you the same secret: nobody’s born with a green thumb. If you’re not sure whether you have that special tough to make plants thrive, the only way to find out is to try for yourself. With a little practice and patience, you might just be surprised and what you end up with by the end of summer.

    Since seniors are at a high risk of depression, it’s important to keep your self-esteem high. Learn more about depression in the elderly here.

Tips for Easier Gardening

Even if you’ve never done any gardening in your life, there’s no reason why you can start your own with confidence. All you need is a good book, online resource, or an experienced friend, and you can get started this year. If you want to start your garden the right way, make sure to do your research first. To get started, take a look at these tips:

  • Elevate Your Garden

    One factor to keep in mind when gardening is that it can be hard on the back. Planting, weeding, and watering all require you to bend over, which isn’t always easy as seniors. If you want to save yourself a backache, try to raise your garden a few feet off the ground.

    How? Potted plants are a good place to start. There are plenty of common garden vegetables that are perfectly at home in a pot, including tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. You can keep them right on your back porch.

    Raised beds are another option, though they take a bit more effort to set up. However, they can be the perfect option if you’re looking to maintain a garden in the long term.

    Finally, you can try vertical planting options. These come in all shapes and sizes, though the most common hang from a wall. They allow you to grow a garden in limited space and without any extra bending over.

    Do you suffer from back pain? Find a range of different resources here.

  • Keep Out of the Sun

    It’s easy to lose track of time when enjoying your favorite hobby. That’s why it’s important to stay aware of your sun exposure when gardening. Try to do your weeding in the morning or evening, wear sunscreen, and put on a sun-blocking hat. Also, don’t forget to water yourself as well as your plants!

  • Choose the Right Tools

    Many gardening tools like trowels and bucks are heavy, putting extra strain on seniors’ joints. To help avoid injury, opt for lightweight plastic alternatives, which can make your life a whole lot easier. Also, when shopping for tools that you’ll be using regularly, look for ones that have wide handles and padding. These will be easier to use for those with motor impairment or arthritis. You can also add your own foam grip tubing to whatever tools you want. To make kneeling at your garden bed more comfortable, look for a quality kneeling pad with a thick foam base and textured non-slip surface.

  • Secure Your Garden

    If you’re caring for someone with dementia, it’s important to make sure your garden is as safe and secure as possible. A fence can be a good first step, though your best bet is to accompany them while they enjoy gardening. Try to make it a regular activity that the two of you can share.

  • Start Small

    While it might be tempting to plant all your favorite vegetables right away, most gardeners would agree it’s better to start small. Especially if you don’t have much experience growing plants, it can be hard to gauge exactly how much work a garden can take. Start by choosing two or three of your favorite veggies and herbs and build a little each year. That way, the size of your garden can grow with your experience.

  • Start with Indoor Gardening

    While it might not offer all the health benefits an outdoor garden offers, indoor gardening is a good option for those with limited mobility. You’ll be surprised at the kind of plants that can grow in a window box or small pot! Just make sure to find options that can thrive in partial sunlight. Lettuce, spinach, carrots, and chives are great choices!

  • Try a Community Garden

    Even if you live in a small city apartment, there are plenty of ways to get in your dose of gardening. Many neighborhoods run community gardens, where residents can stake out their own plots and grow whatever vegetables they like. Space may be limited, but you’ll get the added bonus of social connection each time you visit to weed and water. Staying connected with the community is especially important for seniors looking to maintain brain health.

Tips to Make Gardening Safe & Healthy

The great thing about gardening is that anyone at any age can enjoy it. However, seniors should take extra care to make sure their new hobby is safe. Before starting on this year’s planting, make sure to read through all of these safety tips.

  • Wear the right equipment. Protective shoes, a hat, and gardening gloves are a must.
  • Hydrate. Gardening is hard work, especially on a sunny day, so it’s important that you get as much water as your vegetables.
  • Watch out for cuts and bruises. Even small nicks can quickly get infected with you’re working outdoors. Go back in for a bandage, and then resume your work.
  • Secure any fences and gates. This is especially true if you’re caring for someone with dementia, as they may wander off.
  • Clear any paths and walkways. A neat garden is a safe garden, so ensure that you can easily walk without tripping over any hazards like sprinklers or tools.
  • Take breaks when needed. Gardening can be hard work, but don’t hesitate to take a break once you feel worn out.

What Does Your Garden Grow?

The thing we like most about gardening is that every garden is different. Whether you want to grow herbs, vegetables, or flowers, the end result will be something specific to you. With time and patience, you’ll see that your plants aren’t the only thing you get out of gardening. Improve mental and physical health are sure to follow.

Jessica Hegg
Jessica Hegg

Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.



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