Get Outside! Gardening for Seniors

gardening for seniors as exerciseIt’s that time of year- spring has officially sprung! The air is fresh and new life is blossoming all over the neighborhood.  It’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, and what better way than to get your hands dirty in a garden?

Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

Gardening offers both physical and mental health benefits to seniors. While you may have some physical limitations, with the right planning and some modifications, you, too, can participate in gardening activities this spring. Gardening can keep you fit and healthy, and can improve your strength, mobility and endurance.  Some of the physical benefits of gardening for seniors include:

  • Increased levels of physical activity. Gardening can actually burn up to 300 calories in one session!
  • Helps maintain mobility and flexibility. The movements like lifting, bending, kneeling and digging engage different muscle groups and encourage use of all motor skills.
  • Improves hand strength and joint flexibility.
  • Can help prevent diseases like osteoporosis.

Likewise, gardening also offers mental health benefits to seniors like:

  • Improves mood and decreases feeling of sadness and depression.
  • Lessens social isolation and improves well-being.
  • Provides a rewarding experience and a sense of accomplishment to nurture another living thing.
  • Promotes relaxation and reduces stress

Gardening Tips for Seniors

So, how can you get started on a garden of your own? First off, be sure to consult your physician to discuss your current physical abilities or limitations. Once you have a plan in mind of what you’d like to accomplish, use the following tips to ensure a successful gardening endeavor:

  • Pace yourself. Change your position or task every 20 to 30 minutes to avoid stiffness and work different muscle groups.  Take breaks in the shade when necessary.
  • Watch out for sun exposure. Wear sunscreen and a light, long-sleeved shirt and a hat to avoid sunburn.
  • Avoid the hottest part of the day. Garden early in the morning or later in the afternoon, and remember to stay hydrated!
  • Use ergonomic tools. Use tools that are lighter weight, as well as tools that have more cushioning and longer handles to make tasks easier.  The right tools can also help those who suffer from arthritis.
  • Prevent falls. Make sure your pathway is clear, level and well-lit to avoid accidents.
  • Be comfortable. Have a stable chair and/or table available for comfortable gardening and for taking breaks.  Also elevate flower beds, use pots or vertical trellises to avoid excessive pressure on your knees or back.
  • Make sure the area is safe and secure. If memory loss is an issue, make sure the garden area is fenced-in and secure to avoid wandering.
  • Modify when necessary. Use lower-maintenance plants in your garden for less work throughout the year.

Many American Senior Communities provide gardening areas for residents.   So, what are you waiting for? Get outside and enjoy that beautiful weather! Gardening can be therapeutic and should be considered a beneficial outdoor activity for seniors of any age and physical condition. For more information, visit .

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