Gardening has countless incredible benefits for senior citizens. From getting some exercise to making friends, gardening really has something for everyone. Starting a garden can sound intimidating, but don’t worry. You don’t need to spend lots of money or own acres of land to get the benefits of gardening. You can always start small! Even just working with a few houseplants can give you the same rewards as a large vegetable garden. If you’re low on space, you’d be surprised how many plants you can grow on a sunny windowsill. There are dozens of physical and mental health benefits of gardening as well. Let’s check out 10 of these amazing benefits of gardening for seniors.
Awesome Benefits of Gardening for Seniors
#1 Gardening Can Be a Workout!
Physical fitness is important for seniors. Studies have shown that people over the age of 65 need 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week (1). While the idea of sitting on a spin bike or jumping up and down at the gym might not be appealing, gardening can be a workout all on its own! Between digging, weeding, and carrying plants, gardening will get your heart rate up and can definitely count towards moderate-intensity exercise.
#2 Access to Fresh, Whole Foods
If you are growing your own fruits and vegetables, one of the benefits of gardening for seniors is access to fresh, whole foods. Nutrition is especially important for older people, and eating nutrient-dense foods like fruits and veggies is a great way to improve your health. You can try organic gardening, but conventional gardeners will also benefit from eating more fresh, local produce. If an outdoor vegetable garden isn’t possible, many herbs can be grown in a sunny windowsill.
#3 Gardening Gets You Outside
Being outdoors has been shown to boost the “happy chemicals” in your brain, which leads to reduced feelings of depression, anxiety, and other negative feelings. (2) Depression isn’t just unpleasant–it’s bad for your physical health, too. (3) It reduces your quality of life and can even cause physical symptoms like chronic pain. Depression can be especially dangerous for senior citizens, who are at higher risk for health conditions like heart disease. (4) Since gardening requires you to be outside, it’s a good way to boost your mental health and therefore your physical health too!
#4 Gardening is Grounding
Many people report gardening as a mindful, meditative activity that connects you with nature. “Mindful gardening” is a popular practice among gardeners, and a great way to meditate without having to sit still. (5) Mindfulness allows you to process your thoughts and feelings in a calm, peaceful environment. It also has many health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure and improving sleep. This connection with nature, combined with mindfulness, is another way to get mentally and physically healthier.
#5 Gardening Can Be A Social Activity
Did you know that loneliness can be more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day? It’s true! Loneliness actually increases your risk of premature death by a shocking 26%. Loneliness can be more of a concern for seniors because they are typically “empty nesters” without children at home. Those who have lost a spouse or partner are particularly at risk. Fortunately, gardening can be a social activity that can alleviate these feelings of loneliness. Check to see if there is a community garden near you where you can garden with others. You can also join local gardening classes and groups to connect you with others who share your interests.
#6 Gardening is Good for Your Wallet
While starting a garden can sound expensive, a vegetable garden is actually a great way to save money in the long run. You can start small and build up over the years, buy sale-priced pre-made garden beds, and save your seeds to cut costs. After the initial startup costs, you’ll be saving money in no time. Farmer’s market produce or buying local fruits and veggies adds up quickly! Being able to cook and eat the fruits of your labor is great for the budget.
#7 Gardening is Good for the Planet
From pesticides to factory emissions, food production is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gasses and pollution in the world (6). If you are able to grow your own produce on a local level, you will help alleviate some of the strain of global food production. Even if you only grow houseplants, propagating your existing plants instead of buying new helps reduce pollution caused by shipping. Herb gardening has a positive environmental impact as well. You could even sell or donate your propagated plants to reduce your carbon footprint even more. If you grow a vegetable garden, any excess fruits or veggies can be sold at local farmer’s markets or donated to help those in need.
#8 It Alleviates Stress
Because gardening is good for your brain by getting you outside and engaging you in a mindful task, it will also lower your stress levels. Studies have shown that gardening reduces stress for many senior citizens. (7) Lowering stress improves your heart health, immune system, and more! (8) So, alleviating stress by gardening is a great benefit for seniors.
#9 It’s Visually Appealing
Creative pursuits and viewing artwork make people feel happier. Gardening is a type of creative pursuit that produces something beautiful. There are few joys like transforming an unassuming box of dirt into a vibrant, overflowing garden. You’ll never get tired of looking at its beauty!
#10 Gardening is Fun and Rewarding
Gardening is just plain fun and rewarding. Like any pursuit that requires skill, practice, and hard work, gardening is an exercise in delayed gratification. Because you have to wait and watch and persevere, it is so satisfying when things finally come together. When you finally eat your first home-grown tomato or watch your houseplant thrive, you will feel an incredible sense of reward.