5 Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

There’s nothing better than stopping to smell the roses – especially when you have a beautiful garden. April is National Garden Month, and Village Green Senior Living encourages individuals to get outside and reap the benefits nature can have on our mental and physical wellness. 

Our senior living communities in Federal Way and West Seattle are committed to creating breathtaking natural environments that reflect our dedication to sustainability, green living, and eco-friendly practices. 

Spring is the perfect time to get outside, enjoy beautiful weather, and start planning a garden to enjoy throughout spring and summer. Cultivating and caring for your own garden can positively impact your mental and physical wellness. In addition, studies have shown that older adults who actively engage with their home gardens are at lower risk for some cancers, depression, and heart disease. 

Below, we share five benefits of gardening for seniors and encourage you to get started!

1. Boost Your Immune Health

While you’re outside soaking up the sunshine, you’re absorbing Vitamin D, which can help your body defend itself against colds and the flu. However, there’s another immune-strengthening benefit of gardening that might surprise you.

Gardening can be messy, and not everyone enjoys digging their hands in the dirt, but did you know that soil can actually provide health benefits? It might sound surprising, but a healthy bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, commonly found in garden soil, has been known to ease symptoms of many immune-based health issues, like:

  • Psoriasis
  • Allergies
  • Asthma

This friendly form of bacteria latches onto the skin as you garden and gets into the respiratory system. Research has suggested that soil contains certain microbes that protect our immune systems against allergic diseases, stating that the diverse microbiomes found in soil can add diversity to keep our immune systems protective and on guard. 

2. Reduce Stress

A field experiment tested the stress-relieving effects of gardening for seniors by assigning a difficult task to 30 participants. After completing the stressful assignment, half of the group was randomly assigned either indoor reading or outdoor gardening. The results found that each task decreased stress levels, but the decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group.

The gardeners reported better moods than the reading group and had remarkably lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the hormone that controls stress, and it’s been suggested that high levels of cortisol are linked to obesity, memory and learning issues, and heart disease. Essentially, too much cortisol can abnormally cause your blood pressure and glucose levels to waver. 

Gardening provides a calming effect through the simple power of causing positive changes in nature. Watching your plants grow as you connect with the great outdoors is a sure way to regulate stress!

Senior adult couple picking vegetable from backyard garden

3. Lower Your Risk of Dementia

Many studies have linked the act of gardening for seniors with lower risks of dementia or Alzheimer’s, but one long-term study found some astonishing conclusions. 

The study followed 3,000 older adults for 16 years, tracking different lifestyle factors and health incidents. The results concluded that gardening daily was the most significant risk reducer for dementia by 36%. 

So how does gardening differentiate from other tasks and hobbies? Gardening utilizes different functions that are affected by the progression of dementia. One of the best ways to stave away dementia is to continuously participate in tasks that work out strength, dexterity, learning, problem-solving, and sensory awareness. 

4. Get Active

When we think of exercise, we might think of spending time in the gym, lifting weights, walking on the treadmill, or weekly fitness classes. However, gardening is a physical activity that can help you stay active and moving!

Physical activity is essential for healthy aging and helps keep your body balanced and mobile. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults over the age of 65 need at least 150 minutes a week of exercise, which can be easily broken down into 30 minutes a day for five days. 

Gardening allows us to improve our mobility, use motor skills, boost flexibility, and even enhance our endurance and strength!

5. Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

Fresh air, sunshine, the rustling of leaves in the trees – spending time in nature is healing, and being outside can do wonders for mental and physical wellness. The sun’s rays help your body produce Vitamin D, enhancing the immune system and boosting serotonin levels.

Serotonin is a chemical produced by the brain, often called the “feel good” chemical, which improves mood and helps us feel calm. A lack of serotonin has been linked to depression and anxiety and is a common factor for those who suffer from seasonal depression. Getting outside and tending to the garden can make you happier and provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose! 

The healing powers of nature are truly remarkable, and Village Green Senior Living never gives up on finding ways to make our practices greener. Our love for nature can be found everywhere you look in our Federal Way and West Seattle senior living communities. 

Our desire to create an eco-friendly environment for residents and guests manifests itself in many ways, including our conscientious gardening! Residents of Village Green Senior Living enjoy personal gardens and pea patches to reap all of the benefits of gardening. 

We invite you to visit our website to explore our senior living communities or contact us online to learn how Village Green Senior Living can benefit your lifestyle!

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