For some, there is nothing more refreshing than digging their fingers into warm earth or biting into a sun-ripened tomato fresh off the vine. There is a basic human feeling when planting seeds or bulbs — a sense of achievement and nirvana. However, gardening not only feels good, but it is also good for you. In addition to growing nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, here are some of the other benefits of gardening.
According to the Government of Canada, older adults (65 years and older) need to participate in bone and muscle strengthening activities twice per week. Digging in the garden and squatting to pick out weeds are ways older adults can include strength training into their exercise routine.
Gardening is a natural way to unwind. When asked to either garden or read for 30 minutes after doing a stressful task, those who gardened were in a better mood and less stressed. Those who read were also less stressed, but their mood got worse.
Gardens have the power to bring people together, whether for planting, weeding, watering or just enjoying the beauty. You and your loved one could go to your local government to start a community garden. There are garden clubs that you can join, also. Garden societies hold meetings, share tips and tricks, create events to promote gardening (including Garden Days) and volunteer to beautify their communities.
While gardening has many benefits, there are various health risks. Here are some tips from the Government of Canada:
- Warm up and stretch before gardening so you or your loved one don’t hurt yourself.
- Use knee pads or a padded stool when working on the ground.
- Mix up your gardening tasks to avoid injuries from repetition.
- Drink liquids, especially water.
- Avoid gardening between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is the strongest or work in the shade during that time.
Gardening is a great Meaningful Activity for older adults because it brings joy and purpose into their lives. So, what are you waiting for? Get some dirt and seeds and help your loved one grow healthier and happier.