Health and Wellness |
Benefits of gardening
October 8, 2020
The health benefits of gardening in the retirement years are as plentiful as seeds on a sunflower. Studies show getting down and garden-dirty is an excellent way to boost mental and physical health . The beauty of gardening is that garden beds, equipment and tools can all be modified to create a garden that is interesting, accessible and productive. It’s also a great form of therapy and mindfulness practice.
When Be Cairns client Hanna moved into her home five years ago the garden was desolate and rundown. Over the years Hanna has worked in her garden almost daily and brought new life to the space. “I recently had some help to put in this fountain. And now I love to read, knit and relax here in my own little oasis,” said Hanna proudly
Cairns Regional Coordinator Caroline Thompson said, “Hanna works in her garden daily weeding and caring for each plant. It keeps her active and connect at home. I can see this is something she is very proud of.”
5 health benefits of gardening for older people:
- Exercise and physical activity. Gardening gets the body moving by requiring some bending, squatting, stretching and pulling. Its an enjoyable form of exercise and increases levels of physical activity and helps mobility and flexibility.
- Muscle-strengthening. You don’t have to push around a heavy wheelbarrow to keep your muscles from weakening. Gardening encourages use of fine motor skills and improves endurance and strength.
- Vitamin D. While you don’t want to overdo it, a few hours of exposure to sunshine a week will give you more vitamin D than your nightly glass of milk. 
- Stress-reducing. Gardening increases hand-eye coordination, which helps to keep the brain and body in sync. It also lowers stress-producing cortisol levels and raises serotonin; a calming chemical in the brain that puts you in a good mood.
- Therapy for people living with dementia. There are many mental benefits such as increased abilities in decision-making, self-control and increased confidence and self-esteem and hope. The sensory experience that comes with gardening is a key therapy for those with dementia, as traditional forms of communication aren’t always required to enjoy this experience. 
No matter what you plant or what type of garden you have, set yourself up for success by following these tips:
- Find adaptive tools and equipment that suit your abilities and your garden. Consider using lightweight tools that are easier to handle.
- Remember to be sun smart- prevent sun exposure by working in the garden early in the morning or late in the day. Wear a hat, apply sunscreen frequently and stay hydrated.
- Wear protective shoes, lightweight comfortable clothes and gardening gloves.
- Consider a ‘mini garden’, windowsill garden, pot plants, terrariums and herb gardens if mobility is limited– still full of greenery and benefits.
Check out the Gardening Australia site for more ideas and tips to make the most of your garden.