Anybody who’s ever weeded a row of turnips, planted petunias, or mowed a thriving lawn knows that gardening can be hard work. That hard work pays off in more ways than having the best roses on the block or a tasty salad. Gardening in its various forms can:
Increase hand strength, body strength, and flexibility (Park and Shoemaker, 2009.) All that bending, kneeling, lifting, digging, and pulling pays off.
Improve hand-eye coordination ( D’Andrea, Batavia, & Sasson, 2007.)
Burn calories. The number of calories burned varies according to the gardening activity, the size of the gardener, and the length of time spent performing the activity, but estimates of calories burned per hour varies from 200 for such tasks as pulling weeds to 350 for mowing the lawn. If it makes you sweat, it counts as exercise. And, if you’re a vegetable gardener, you get to eat what you sow.
Promote mental and physical stimulation and may help preserve cognitive health (Infantino, 2004) Gardening engages our minds and bodies while soothing our frazzled nerves.
Gardening is a way to socially connect across generations and with the great outdoors. Planting a lilac shoot from the bush in your grandmother’s yard is an evocative, tangible way of preserving happy childhood memories. Introducing your children or grandchildren to gardening with their own little plot or even just helping you with the watering (what kid doesn’t like to play with the garden hose?) can create a bond.
Grab a trowel and get growing!
Sources: Park, S., & Shoemaker, C. Observing body position of older adults, while gardening for health benefits and risks. Activities, Adaptations & Aging, 33; 31-38.
D’Andrea, S. J., Batavia, M., & Sasson, N. (2007). Effect of horticultural therapy on preventing the decline of mental abilities of patients with Alzheimer’s type dementia. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, 18, 9–17.
Infantino, M. (2004). Gardening: A strategy for health promotion in older women. Journal of the New York State Nurses Association, 35(2), 10–17.
Wang, Donna, & MacMillan, Thalia. The Benefits of Gardening for Older Adults: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Activities, Adaptation & Aging; 37:2; 153-181.