6 Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

May 11, 2020

As the weather gets warmer, the grass starts greening and trees start blooming, we’re all naturally drawn outside into the spring air … and those with green thumbs get ready to head into the garden. Gardening is an incredibly popular pastime – according to a 2018 survey, nearly 77% of Americans garden as a pastime – and it’s particularly prevalent among older adults.

“Gardening is one of the best outdoor activities any of us can do,” says Doris Lea, Executive Director of Hidden Springs of McKinney. “It provides a great form of exercise, while also stimulating the senses, puts us in tune with the natural world and rewards us with delicious vegetables and fruits and beautiful flowers.”

What you may not know is that gardening provides a lot of surprising, indirect health benefits that go way beyond a freshly grown tomato or a gorgeous summertime bouquet. Besides being a source of excellent aerobic and resistance exercises, it makes us healthier, happier, more engaged people.

“Having activities we enjoy is necessary for healthy aging, and gardening is one of those beautiful activities that anyone can do – no matter how old or young we are,” says Doris. “At Hidden Springs of McKinney, we have gorgeous garden areas that our residents can use to exercise their green thumbs or simply sit and enjoy. Our North Dallas weather is perfect for making things grow, and I can’t wait to see what blooms this year.”


6 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

It lowers stress.

Studies have shown that gardening can reduce levels of cortisol – also known as the “stress hormone” in the body. In fact, it has been shown to reduce stress levels more and improve moods better than other “relaxing” exercises like reading. Plus, being outside in the sun and fresh air, seeing the results of your efforts and creating a beautiful space to relax is incredibly fulfilling. Doesn’t just thinking about it make you feel more peaceful?

It makes us happier.

As gardening is reducing cortisol, it’s simultaneously boosting our body’s production of serotonin – the “happy hormone.” This puts us in a better mood, increases our feelings of peace and calmness and can even lessen the symptoms of depression. Perhaps this is why ‘horticulture therapy’ is becoming a popular form of therapy for individuals suffering from depression and other mental illnesses.

It improves our heart health.

All forms of exercise are good forms of exercise, and gardening is a moderately intense activity that definitely counts towards the recommended 150 minutes per week that doctors say older adults should get. Aerobic activity gets our blood pumping and helps our cardiovascular system stay strong and healthy. But it’s the “being out in the sun” part of gardening that really turns this form of exercise up to 11. Spending time in the sun increases our body’s levels of vitamin D, which has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

It increases mobility and flexibility.

Gardening doesn’t just get our hearts going – it also gets us stretching, moving and strengthening our bodies. Bending, crouching, standing up and down, weeding and planting all use different muscles, particularly ones that aren’t used very often. Best of all, it’s fairly low impact, making this a great activity for older adults or those who are trying to rebuild strength and mobility following an illness.

It boosts brain health.

Gardening is a full-body experience, engaging our bodies and our minds fully. It should come as no surprise, then, that gardening has been shown to lower the risk of developing dementia by up to 36 percent (according to some studies). People who garden on the regular engage abilities like problem-solving, dexterity, sensory awareness and endurance. It’s also been shown to help individuals who have dementia maintain a high quality of life while also reducing unwanted behaviors.

It improves your immune system.

Did your mother ever say to you, “a little dirt never hurt anyone?” As it turns out, she’s more right than she might have known. Mycobacterium vaccae is a bacterium that’s found in common garden soil, and studies have shown that it’s been known to reduce your risk for allergies, psoriasis, asthma and even depression. So go on and get your hands a little dirty – you’re practicing healthy habits.


Tips for Gardening Safely

Just as with any activity, it’s important to practice good form and be sure you’re not overtaxing yourself. Gardening does carry some risks (like getting sunburned, becoming overheated or increasing falls), so here are some tips to make your garden grow safely for seniors:

  • Use potted plants or raised beds, which can help seniors move more freely while avoiding back strain and vertigo.
  • Look for lightweight gardening tools, which can be an easier option for seniors.
  • Wear sunscreen and protective clothing (long sleeves, a hat), and be sure to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. Drink plenty of water.
  • Have a seat readily available where you can relax and rest from time to time (and look out at your magnificent work).

For more information about our new community in North Dallas, please contact us at 972.483.0234.


Luxury Living in North Dallas

At Hidden Springs of McKinney, we understand how important location is to North Dallas seniors who are looking for an engaging, enriching retirement lifestyle. Located in McKinney, Texas, we are close to medical centers, arts and entertainment, outdoor opportunities and everything else you love about this area. Seniors who choose to make us their home can enjoy a range of trips, opportunities and activities while living their very best life thanks to our innovative focus on wellness.


Active Retirement Living for a Healthy Tomorrow

The secret to a life well-lived awaits you at Hidden Springs of McKinney. Envisioned and developed by Madison Marquette, a company with a 25-year track record of investing in vibrant communities and a stellar reputation for developing luxury residences, you’ll discover all the possibilities your retirement brings … as well as the confidence of knowing your future is secure.

Our beautifully appointed, active retirement living community is created for those who expect more out of life. Luxury living, gracious services, resort-quality amenities, engaging programs and stunning apartments in 15 floor plans are just a few of the benefits awaiting you. And with assisted living and memory care services offered on campus, you can retire with complete peace of mind, knowing that if needs change, the care you deserve is right at home.

To learn more about Hidden Springs of McKinney and discover The Secret to a Life Well Lived, call or visit us today. We’d be happy to schedule a tour and show you just how much our location can make your retirement experience exceptional.

Call us today at 972.483.0234.