When you hear the term gardener, you might automatically think of a younger person digging in the dirt and that it is a young person’s hobby. This would actually be incorrect as numerous seniors enjoying gardening on numerous levels – for physical activity, mental relaxation and a chance to get out into the sunshine and just be immersed in nature. Gardening has a wide range of benefits that are both physical and mental, such as the chance to get moving and increase your physicality, it allows the mind to relax and breathe, it’s good for the soul to see the tangible results of your hard work and it also lowers blood pressure while boosting the immune system.
As the body ages, health problems become more pronounced, so it is important to keep on top of your physical and mental health. Gardening is the type of hobby that will help you do that without feeling like an intense exercise routine, but you would be surprised at how many muscles are required to start, maintain and harvest a moderate sized garden!
As little as two hours of gardening (moderate to intense) a week has been proven to lower a senior’s blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and boost heart functions. It can also help a person maintain a healthy weight and keeping those extra pounds from creeping on the body to stay!
Gardening is a very physical activity as it requires a lot of squatting, bending, and lunging and core strength. These actions are repeated multiple times throughout a 30-minute gardening session as you work around the garden bed to remove all weeds, plant new seeds, harvest produce and more!
The action of pushing a wheelbarrow, carrying shovels of dirt and spreading compost works out the arms, shoulders and back while the daily dose of Vitamin D doesn’t hurt. Plants are one of the biggest producers of oxygen on the planet and being around them daily increases our respiratory functions.
Numerous studies have proven that gardening is one of the tasks that can relax anxiety, improve self-esteem and even reduce the levels of stress you might be feeling in your life. This is just as true for seniors as it is for younger adults and taking proactive steps towards a healthy mind is a necessity at any age.
Mental distress can occur in people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors, so gardening is a way to avoid that. Gardening releases tension from the mind through the repetition of steps – dig, remove the weed, replace the soil, fertilize the soil, water and repeat. This repetition is also a fantastic anxiety reducer, allowing the gardener to concentrate solely on the tasks at hand and calm the mind down.
Tips to Help Gardening Become Easier
Once the body ages, certain tasks can become a tad bit more difficult, but gardening doesn’t have to be one of them if you invest in the right equipment and take a couple minutes to get ready before your gardening session. Try some or all of the following:
- Invest in a padded kneeling cushion that will help distribute your body weight on the ground and not place as much pressure on your knees. A thickly padded kneeling pad can also help support posture as it cradles the knees and the lower legs, allowing the body to sink into the ground instead of the joints.
- Look at purchasing a heavy-duty wheelbarrow to help carry things that are needed in your garden. Don’t lift big bags of soil and fertilizer by hand or carry shovelfuls of compost back and forth; instead use a wheelbarrow to take pressure off your joints.
- Before starting your garden maintenance for the day, spend a few minutes stretching out your neck, shoulders, back and arms to get the blood flowing through your veins. This will also loosen up your muscles, making them more pliable and relaxes the joints so the physical requirements are a benefit to you; not a hindrance.
Just because you are a senior, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up the things that you love and enjoy; it simply means that you have to change the way you complete these tasks so that you are receiving all of the benefits and none of the potential negative affects your selected hobby could have. Gardening is this type of hobby that could have negative side effects when you are a senior but with a few tips and guidelines? You could be digging in the dirt in no time!
It’s a simple matter of changing the routine in which you would garden before, implementing a few new tools in your arsenal to make gardening easier on the body and watching those beautiful flowers and hearty vegetables grow right under your green thumb!