Why Gardening Helps As You Age
Mental and physical benefits of tending to plants
It’s no secret that spending time outdoors and exercising have immeasurable benefits for your mental and physical wellbeing. In fact, research shows that a 20 to 25 minute daily walk outside could add up to seven years to your life. Gardening is a particularly healthy activity to prevent dementia and other diseases. Here’s a breakdown of how gardening will help you or your aging parent.
Get more Vitamin D
Being outdoors will expose you to elevated levels of Vitamin D, a great source for strong bones.
By interacting with bugs in the soil, you’ll gain beneficial bacteria we don’t get from our contemporary world. One study shows that bacteria commonly found in soil can boost the metabolism and release of serotonin within the brain to affect mood – similar to the way antidepressant drugs operate.
Get more exercise
Getting outside, digging, planting and walking will get your blood and body moving, a great way to avoid diabetes and heart issues down the line. This also helps older adults with chronic pain and improves mobility.
There’s no better source of organic food than your own backyard. Even some foods in the store that claim to be organic are not completely so, and conventional foods are sprayed with pesticides. By growing your own food, you tend to them yourself and know exactly the shape they’re in – leading to healthier and tastier meals made at home.
Keep your mind sharp
According to research, the physical activity involved with gardening may lower a person’s chances of developing dementia. Two studies followed participants for up to 16 years – beginning in their 60s and their 70s. Data from the studies that followed those two age groups shows that people who garden regularly have a 36 and 47 percent lower risk of dementia, respectively, than non-gardeners.
Feel more connected
In addition to the individual mental and physical benefits, gardening can help bring communities together, decreasing the risk of loneliness in older adults – one of the leading factors leading to depression and disease. According to one study, 18 percent of seniors live by themselves, and 43 percent indicate feeling lonely regularly.
Growing your own produce will save you money on your grocery bill and overall food costs. The National Gardening Association (NGA) advises that a properly kept garden should provide one-half a pound of produce for each square foot during a growing season.
Help the environment
One of the best ways to help ourselves is to give back to the planet. By gardening, you’re providing a habitat and food for wildlife and humans. You’ll also help regulate the water cycle, assist the earth in absorbing carbon dioxide and facilitate the release of oxygen into the atmosphere.
Even if you live on a busy city street in Manhattan with limited space, urban farming is a huge trend that allows even the most urban dweller to grow a few plants at home.