Getting out in the garden is a fantastic way to get some exercise, beautify your surroundings and improve your overall health, both physical and mental.
A recent study confirms that gardening benefits both mental and physical health, reduces stress levels, increases relaxation and improves overall fitness. The report, Gardens and Health, found that the mental health benefits of gardening are broad and diverse, and that regular gardeners have shown significant reductions in depression and anxiety, improved social functioning and wider effects, including opportunities for vocational development.
The conclusions are aligned with similar studies and which found that seniors who did moderate physical activity such as gardening, at least once a week, were two and a half times less likely to develop long-term illnesses.
Many seniors downsize their homes and gardens as their children grow up and move away, and they themselves retire, but a smaller garden does not mean mean sacrificing the pleasure and health benefits of gardening.
Instead of a garden which requires lots of elbow grease, a smaller garden offers the opportunity to develop new skills, such as raising plants from seed, gardening in pots and trying smaller varieties of your favourite plants, such as dwarf roses.
Herbs and vegetables grow beautifully in pots or smaller areas, so you can enjoy truly organic produce, along with a dose of mental health. Being outside offers the chance to get your daily quota of vitamin D and fresh air, regular movements like bending encourage your joints to keep moving well, and gardening can be social too – many a gardener passes the time of day with their neighbours as they dig and water.
Now that they days are getting longer and warmer, dust off your gardening gloves and get back outdoors – it is a wonderful cure-all for the winter blues. Best of all, once you’ve finished gardening, you have a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy a book, a chat with friends, or a long cool drink.
If you have an especially creative small garden, please send us your photos, so we can share them with other GrownUps gardeners!