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5 Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

Embrace your green thumb and enjoy these physical and emotional benefits.


One of the health benefits of gardening is that it encourages physical movement.Did you know that getting your hands dirty can help your bill of health stay clean? This National Gardening Week, we’re exploring the health benefits of gardening for seniors and how this hobby can enhance your life. Here are five physical and emotional ways that embracing your green thumb is good for you:

  1. Encourages physical movement
  2. Provides a natural source of vitamin D
  3. Reduces stress and boosts your mood
  4. Offers new social opportunities
  5. Keeps your mind sharp

Continue reading to learn more, including safety tips on gardening for seniors:

1. Encourages physical movement

Perhaps without even knowing it, you perform a host of healthy exercises in a single gardening session, including squatting, lifting, and pushing. In fact, a study conducted by the American Society for Horticultural Science found that just 30 minutes of gardening fulfills all physical activity recommendations for seniors. Thanks to the wide variety of movements, gardening is a healthy form of both aerobic and strength-building exercise. While gardening, be careful not to go beyond any exercise limits you have discussed with your doctor. If bending over or kneeling on the ground isn’t for you, consider a raised garden instead.

Try these simple warm-up exercises to gently prepare your body to reap and sow.

2. Provides a natural source of vitamin D

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” has several health benefits for the body, particularly for metabolic functions and skeletal health. Spending time in the sun when gardening allows your body to synthesize this healthy nutrient naturally. However, use caution when exposing yourself to the sun. Protect yourself from burns and dehydration with plenty of high-quality sunscreen on any exposed skin, a wide-brimmed hat, and fluids to stay hydrated.

Learn more about how vitamin D is benefits your overall health here.

3. Reduces stress and boosts your mood

The positive emotional health benefits of gardening are well-documented. An analysis of twenty-two different studies uncover a link between gardening and reduced anxiety and depression. It also decreases levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” And while sunlight and exercise are certainly a factor in this, there’s another fascinating reason involved. Soil itself appears to contain bacteria that acts as an antidepressant! Exposure to that bacteria through contact with the soil and consuming your home-grown produce can elevate your mood and make you feel good.

4. Offers new social opportunities

Nurturing social relationships is shown to have significant effects on mental and physical health. Research shows that adults who socialize enjoy better health and live longer than their isolated peers. Where better to build relationships than in the garden? Community gardens provide a common purpose, a space for meeting and interacting with old and new friends, and the satisfaction of beautifying your neighborhood and growing nutritious food together.

Is there is a community garden in your area? Search this database to find out.

5. Keeps your mind sharp

Experts found that daily gardening can lower the risk of dementia by up to 36%. From problem-solving to sensory awareness, spending time with your hands in the earth involves many cognitive functions that can keep your brain sharp.

Interested in more ways to keep your brain sharp? Try these 8 fun exercises for your mind.

Safety Tips on Gardening for Seniors

Like many other physical activities, it’s wise to use caution. These tips will help you enjoy the health benefits of gardening while avoiding potential risks:

  • Use raised beds, walls, and trellises for plants, so you don’t have to stoop over as often
  • Use lightweight tools or those with handles covered in foam for a softer grip
  • Put chairs or benches in your gardening area for periodic rests
  • Build your garden with shaded areas nearby
  • Work in the early morning or early evening when the sun is less fierce
  • Build a path from non-slip materials and wear stable shoes
  • Attend to any injuries immediately, even minor cuts, scrapes, or insect bites

Don’t have space for a garden of your own? Check whether your neighborhood or residence offers a community garden or volunteer to help plant at a local area park. You may also want to consider starting your own indoor potted herb garden or garden-variety window box.

There are so many benefits of gardening for seniors that even if you’ve never considered yourself to have a “green thumb,” it’s worth a try. Grab a few square feet of earth and start experiencing all the benefits of gardening for yourself! For more articles on senior living and independence, visit our blog today.

Discover more health benefits of gardening here.