Flowers in a fenced flowerbed

Gardening for Health: Seniors and the Joy of Cultivating 

The weather this time of year in Southwest Georgia is just perfect—not too hot yet but not cold either. It’s the perfect time to get outside and prune, plant, and play in your garden or yard. Not only is gardening great for your body, it’s also great for your mind. In this article, we’ll go over how the simple act of cultivating a garden, or even just a few plants, can positively impact both your physical and mental health. 

  • Gardening can stave off depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Getting outside and putting your hands in the dirt and cultivating a living thing can be a really powerful thing. It can give you a sense of accomplishment watching something grow from seed or a small sprout into something much larger, and the act of gardening can give you a sense of peace. Both of these things can keep anxiety and depression away, and scientific studies have backed this up. 
  • Gardening can keep your brain engaged. Gardening takes a lot of thought and planning, which may be why a scientic study found that gardening could reduce the risk of dementia by more than a third. Additionally, that same study found planting a vegetbable garden can improve brain nerve growth factors, improve functioning in parts of your brain critical for memory. The effect of gardening on your mental health overall though makes for a happier, healthier, and more resilient brain. 
  • Gardening is good for your hands. While small tasks like planting seeds, mulching, pruning, and harvesting vegetables may not seem like a huge workout, they are great for your hands as you get older. All of these activities involved in gardening improve your hand strength and dexterity which can help you as you age and may offer some relief for those who suffer from conditions like arthritis. 
  • Gardening can lower inflammation and blood pressure. Spending time in nature is naturally soothing and calming for your brain, and there is medical research to suggest that can lower inflammation, which is linked to many chronic diseases, and blood pressure. 
  • Gardening keeps stress levels low. Again, spending time in nature is calming, which can naturally lower your stress levels. Even potted plants on a terrace or small porch can be extremely beneficial. Gardening can be very joyful and peaceful which can lower your stress levels and make you happier and healthier overall. 
  • Gardening counts towards your weekly exercise goals. The Centers for Disease Controls recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate level activity or exercise each week. While most people’s mind jumps to running, biking, or working out on the elliptical, certain aspects of gardening can be considered moderate level activity and can help you meet that goal of 150 minutes each week while doing something you enjoy that is peaceful and calming. 

If you don’t have the space to garden or are new to the activity, SCOA offers a weekly gardening group for seniors in our area. You can plant, maintain, and harvest beds with produce, flowers, and herbs even if you live in an apartment or have never gardened before. A UGA certified master gardener leads the group and can give you helpful tips if you are looking to start your own garden. If you are interested, find the next group meeting under our events tab or by using this link: https://sowegacoa.org/events/

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