From their vibrant colors and alluring aromas, gardens attract the attention of many, and gardening is a trend that has grown in the past few years. According to the National Gardening Survey, gardening is becoming increasingly popular among the younger generations (18 to 34-year-olds), accounting for 29% of all gardening households.
Gardening is a hobby that has a multi-generational appeal behind it. While many may find solace in the hobby, they may be unaware of the health benefits of gardening.
In honor of National Gardening Month, which takes place in April, HarborChase Senior Living is sharing some of the benefits of gardening!
Gardening Can Relieve Stress
One Dutch study asked two groups to complete a high-stress task. After the job was completed, one group spent 30 minutes gardening, while the other group went inside to read. While both groups experienced a decrease in stress, the gardening group showed a more significant reduction in cortisol levels or the hormone associated with stress.
Gardening can also be linked to improved self-esteem as gardeners can actually measure their efforts by nurturing a plant from seed to fruit-bearing.
Gardening Can Promote Heart Health
While gardening may not seem like a strenuous workout, caring for a fruit or vegetable garden can provide you with the 2.5 hours of moderate activity recommended per week. This type of physical exercise can help promote a healthier and happier heart!
According to Michelle Adams, an instructor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, “The actual motions involved with digging and raking all involve a lot of coordinated upper and lower body movement that actually increases metabolic rate and can get your heart rate a little bit elevated… Not at an intense level, but at a nice low to moderate intensity level.”
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that participants who completed 10 to 59 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, such as gardening, lowered their risk of a heart attack or stroke by 12%!
Gardening Can Help Fight Dementia
Another fantastic health benefit of gardening is the fact that it can reduce the likelihood of developing a form of dementia. One study followed 2,800 seniors for over 16 years and discovered that physical activity, specifically gardening, could help reduce the risk of dementia by 36%.
While there is no substantial evidence as to why gardening lowers our risk of dementia, gardening does involve a variety of our critical functions, including balance, dexterity, learning, problem-solving, and sensory awareness. Strengthening these functions can keep our minds sharp and active!
Gardening Connects Us with Nature
The benefits of nature are vast, and one should not undervalue the effects it can have on the body. One of the most significant health benefits of gardening is that it connects you with nature and exposes you to fresh air, vitamin D, and helpful bacteria. Vitamin D is a nutrient that can help support:
Spending time outdoors can also impact our mood and happiness. Some reports found that those who spent more time outdoors were happier, kinder, and even more creative. Beyond the mental health benefits of gardening and nature, fresh air can help flush our lungs of toxins, boost our immune system, and energize us.
Gardening Can Help Build Relationships
Research has also shown that gardening and spending time with plants makes us more compassionate. This compassion strengthens our relationships and helps us build new ones. Gardening is one of the most rewarding hobbies and can be easily done in a community setting, giving us the ability to combat loneliness.
There are many other health benefits of gardening, and being a part of a community can be one of those benefits. It can connect us, make us happier, and improve our overall health. If you’re looking for a place with tips on how to get started, the National Gardening Association is a fantastic resource with advice, forums, and courses!
If you found this blog helpful and would like more information regarding senior health or healthy aging, we encourage you to visit our HarborChase Senior Living blog!