Tina Glenn is the President and CEO of Hearthside Home Care Inc. with home care services as FirstLight Home Care Guilford. She has over 40 years in healthcare and C-level executive experience of 28 years. She can be reached at 336-808-1351.
Gardening offers many health benefits. In addition to helping seniors enjoy the outdoors and fresh air, gardening provides opportunities for increased physical activity, and it can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. That’s just the beginning when it comes to the health benefits of gardening. Here are other advantages to getting your hands dirty.
Increases physical activity. Gardening can help you stay active at any age. The movement of planting and tending to a garden helps with muscle strength, mobility, and flexibility. It can also reduce the risk of falls by improving balance and coordination. The beauty of gardening is that it may not even feel like exercise, and you’re getting a workout while engaging in an activity you enjoy.
Boosts the sunshine vitamin. Your body needs vitamin D to build and maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D also boosts your immune system. Unfortunately, many older adults don’t get regular exposure to sunlight. Gardening can help get seniors get their daily dose of vitamin D by spending time in the sun. However, with prolonged sun exposure, be sure to use proper sunscreen, wear protective clothing and don a hat.
Improves your mood. Gardening also has many mental health benefits. Studies have shown that gardening reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, helps to combat loneliness and isolation, and it can make you feel more peaceful and relaxed. It also provides a connection with nature that can improve your mood.
Produces nutritious foods. Enjoy the fruits and veggies of your labor by planting edible crops. Some of the easiest plants to grow for novice gardeners include bell peppers, blackberries, raspberries, cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, and squash. Growing and eating your own fruits and vegetables can also help maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Gives you a sense of purpose. We often struggle with feeling productive as we age. Gardening can help with this by providing specific tasks to complete. It’s also extremely gratifying to plant, tend, harvest, and share your own food and to see the end result of your efforts.
If you want to get started with gardening, keep a few things in mind to make it easy and safe. Try raised beds or potted plants to reduce the amount of kneeling, bending, and squatting. Replace heavy tools with lighter, ergonomic versions that are easier to operate. Have a seat nearby to offer rest and make it more comfortable to do some of the tending and harvesting.
Gardening is an activity that offers many benefits for seniors, from improving physical wellbeing and mental health to providing a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Provided by Tina Glenn, President and Roget de Percin, Vice President of FirstLight Home Care of Guilford, and FirstLight Home Care of Jacksonville and Crystal Coast of NC.