Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

by Robert Borges on October 30, 2018

A fresh, flowering garden full of vibrant colors and scents can be appealing both visually and spiritually. But did you know that tending to a garden can also be great for your health?

While gardening is a healthy hobby at any age, it is especially beneficial for seniors. If you are fifty-five or older, consider these health benefits as you stop to smell the roses. 

1. You will have fewer colds

Gardening has been linked to a decrease in susceptibility to the common cold and flu virus for many reasons. Digging in the dirt may help to boost your immune system, as it increases your exposure to friendly bacteria that are found only in soil. The most notable among these is the Mycobacterium vaccae, which can help alleviate symptoms of allergies, psoriasis, and depression, among boosting your defenses against common germs.

By increasing the number of healthy bacteria in your body, you will also increase the amount of probiotic activity in your digestive tract. This can, again, improve your immune functioning and also help to improve digestive functioning, making you more regular and less prone to stomach upsets like gas, bloating, or diarrhea.

2. You will be less stressed

Gardening can help lower cortisol levels in your brain. While your body needs some cortisol to sustain natural functions, it can be dangerous at high levels as it has a harmful impact on your blood pressure and glucose. Letting out some steam with the rake or trowel can help you feel less stressed and also reduce symptoms of anxiety.

This is especially true if you select Native plants, which tend to be low-maintenance and therefore easier to care for. Pick plants that are native to your area, as well as those that grow well in your climatic conditions and environment. This will help reduce the amount of time you need to spend on tedious chores like pruning, watering, and fertilizing, and increase your overall enjoyment of your garden.

3. You’ll stay sharper

Among other mental health benefits, like boosting your overall happiness, gardening has many other bonuses. Fresh air can help improve your satisfaction and mood, mainly by exposing you to vitamin D, which helps increase levels of the serenity-boosting hormone serotonin.  

Gardening can also help to reduce the risk of dementia. It requires you to use dozens of critical functions, including physical ability and having excellent motor skills to improve your mind stay sharp even as you age. 

4. You’ll get some exercise

There’s no questioning the fact that training is an integral part of staying healthy as you age. Regular use can improve your cardiovascular functioning, strengthen your bones, and keep you limber well into old age. Gardening might not be as vigorous as running or swimming, but it’s still a great way to stay active while reducing the impact on your joints. The movement required for planting, watering, and harvesting can improve your flexibility and coordination quite substantially. 

5. You’ll feel less pain 

Staying active–which includes working in your garden–can help keep your mind off your daily aches and pains, as well as any worries you might have. The natural world has a unique way of reducing stress while keeping busy in your garden can promote relaxation.

That being said, you should follow some basic guidelines when working in your garden to ensure that it remains a pleasurable experience. Consider using vertical gardens (such as those grown in a lattice, raised bed, or elevated pots) to avoid the need to bend over or get on your hands and knees. Be aware of safety hazards, like exposed roots or tree branches, and be mindful of any other limitations you might have.

6. You’ll stay connected

Working in a garden can help create social connections among people with a common interest. Many of the green communities listed on offer community gardens in which members can garden to their heart's’ content. Whether you are planting flowers, vegetables, or fruits, you will be able to connect with fellow members and form valuable, long-lasting friendships.

7. You’ll consume a healthier diet 

Studies have shown that people who grow their own food tend to incorporate more healthy choices, like fruits and vegetables, in their diets. If you build your own produce, you not only reap the physical and mental rewards of your exercise, but you will also enjoy the nutritional benefits of a more varied, nutritious diet. 


About the author

Rose Weber is a garden care extraordinaire. She has been gardening since she was a child and loves to spend her weekends teaching her grandchildren all about growing a vegetable patch. You can find her sharing her crop with her friends and neighbors.