April Showers Bring May Flowers: Gardening and Its Positive Effects on Aging

April Showers Bring May Flowers: Gardening and Its Positive Effects on Aging

Photos of raised garden beds at Heather Glen Senior Living

April 8, 2022

As the temperatures begin to rise and nature comes into bloom, there’s no better way to welcome in the warmer weather than spending time outdoors. Cultivating a garden is a great activity to keep busy during the spring and summer months—as it’s purposeful, fun and even provides an array of health benefits. At Heather Glen, we care about our residents and their well-being, which is why we’ve put together a list of just the start of positive effects that gardening can have on aging.

Increased exercise

While gardening might not seem like the most effective workout compared to swimming or walking, it is a hearty physical activity that can serve as great daily exercise—and it’s even been proven to help slow down the aging process. Additionally, gardening is a moderately intense exercise and can count towards the expert recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily. The benefits provided by a quick and easy daily exercise like gardening are nearly endless, and it can lead to greater overall health. A study from Stockholm found that regular gardening and its positive effect on physical health can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30% for people over 60. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors can burn up to 330 calories an hour when engaging in light gardening and yard work. Gardening offers a prime opportunity for seniors to exercise and burn calories when planting and pulling weeds. You’ll want to add some light stretching before or after spending time in the flower bed to help avoid hand injuries common to gardeners, like tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Improved stress and anxiety

Exposure to nature and outdoors through gardens and gardening activities can enhance psychological well-being through emotion regulation and relief from stress. Fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mood and your health. The sun’s rays not only cause your body to produce vitamin D—which can help reduce the risk of heart disease—but they also boost the serotonin levels in your brain. Additionally, studies have found that gardening can lower levels of cortisol, which can alleviate stress and even reduce high blood pressure. 

Gardening is a great activity for individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or anyone who needs an escape from everyday stressors and repetitive cycles. For those who have a hard time leaving their room on certain days, community gardens provide incredible social opportunities for seniors by creating a safe space for meeting and interacting with new and old friends. It also helps provide the satisfaction of growing nutritious foods and beautiful plants while enhancing the community together. Gardening can give seniors their own outlet and responsibility, which helps them cultivate an overall higher sense of self-worth and happiness. 

Endless health benefits

Gardening provides exposure to Mycobacterium vaccae—the bacteria that is found in garden soil—which can help improve the immune system. This friendly bacteria has been known to alleviate symptoms of allergies, asthma, psoriasis and even depression—which is a big step towards greater health and a huge benefit for the eldery population. In addition to being a great form of physical exercise, gardening can help increase mobility and strength. Keeping lesser used muscles engaged, gardening has been shown to be a productive way of rebuilding and maintaining strength and mobility—especially for those who have suffered a stroke at any point. 

Research has also shown that gardening can decrease the risk of dementia in the eldery population. This could be because gardening requires the use of many critical functions, including sensory awareness and problem-solving skills. By spending even a short amount of time gardening on a regular basis, seniors can maintain their motor skills while improving their endurance and strength. 

Choose Heather Glen

At Heather Glen, we offer two gardening areas for our residents, one in personal care and the other in memory care. They each feature raised garden beds to enhance the joy of gardening while keeping strenuous activities to a minimum, allowing for the utmost comfort and happiness while spending time gardening outdoors. From increased exercise to improved mood and greater overall health—gardening is a fantastic activity for seniors to partake in, and our team at Heather Glen is proud to provide amazing gardens to our residents. Just remember to apply your sunscreen, and let yourself and your health thrive like never before in our gardens at Heather Glen.

There’s nothing our company values more than the quality of care and life for all of our residents, and we can’t wait to continue to grow our offerings for your loved ones and their health. Don’t hesitate to set up a tour of our one-of-a-kind community, and feel free to give us a call at (610) 841-4478 or fill out our online form at any time. 

Ask Kim & Jessica