Senior couple having fun.

8 ways gardening boosts your health

Gardening is an activity that many older adults enjoy through the warm spring and summer months. It’s relaxing, engrossing and gratifying to plant and grow nutritious vegetables and fruits, or beautiful flowers to decorate a room or dinner table.

Gardening also offers a surprising number of physical and mental health benefits.

Here are some great reasons to spend time getting active in nature:

1) Keep your heart healthy. Active hobbies like gardening are as good as going to the gym for your heart health, reports the British Journal of Medicine. Researchers found that older adults who gardened, or had other active hobbies, reduced their risk of heart attack or stroke by 27% and their chances of dying from any cause by 30%.

2) Lose weight and increase endurance. Older women who did gardening sessions for 15 consecutive weeks significantly reduced their waist circumference and improved their aerobic endurance, according to the journal HortTechnology.

3) Keep hands strong and nimble. Older adults who garden regularly have better hand strength and pinch force, and nimbler fingers, reported a study in HortScience.

4) Eat fresh produce. Gardeners consume more vegetables and fruits, which improve nutrition, promote health and prevent disease, according to the University of Toronto.

5) Strengthen your brain. Gardening stimulates the brain and improves cognition, says the University of Waterloo. Daily gardening also reduces the risk of dementia by 36%, researchers reported in the Medical Journal of Australia.

6) Boost your mood. Gardening gives you the joy of connecting to nature. People who spent 90 minutes being active in a natural setting had a lower risk of depression than those active in a high-traffic urban setting, reported Stanford University researchers.

7) Lower stress. Doing 30 minutes of outdoor gardening reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and can provide relief from acute stress, according to the Journal of Health Psychology.

8) Raise vitamin D levels. Exposure to sunlight through outdoor gardening helps older adults achieve adequate serum vitamin D levels, which increases calcium levels and strengthens your bones and immune system, according to the National Institutes of Health. Be sure to use sunscreen to protect your skin and sunglasses for your eyes.

At Chartwell, we believe active living is a key component in helping older adults maintain their health and well-being. Gardening is one of many recreational activities enjoyed by our residents that contributes to good physical, emotional and cognitive health. Learn more about our LiveNow signature programming on our website!