The Health Benefits of Gardening

May 28, 2010

By Carolyn Anderson, MD

While not all seniors have a place to grow a large garden they can still enjoy the health benefits of gardening inside.

Gardenign can burn calories Whether you garden inside or outside you are engaging in activity while planting flowers, fruits or vegetables. If you are able to garden outside it counts as a form of exercise that can burn as many calories as a work-out in a gym.

Gardening can save you considerable money depending on the type and amount of things you grow. If you grow vegetables and freeze or can them for later use you can eliminate some of your food costs. Gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. All you need is some dirt, seeds and some sort of container if planting indoors. Plants can also serve as expensive home decorations.

Growing your own food gives you easy access to fresh food. Because you can give more attention to your plants than industrial farms you can grow your food without the use of pesticides. Produce can begin to lose its nutritional value as soon as it is picked. Some foods you buy in grocery stores like tomatoes are picked unripe and then ripened using a gas. Being able to grow your own tomatoes mean you get a better tasting vegetable with its full nutritional content. Besides the lack of pesticides and the increased nutritional content there is something so satisfying about eating something you grew yourself.

Growing fresh herbs in your gardenHerbs like basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme are easily grown inside. Being able to snip some herbs out your personal garden can reduce your need to use salt. Reducing your salt intake can cut down on your risk of hypertension which increases your risk for strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure.

Plants improve the quality of air by filtering out carbon monoxide and other chemicals. Some of the top plants for removing toxins are the bamboo and lady palm plants, the rubber plant and the Boston fern.

By growing your own produce you reduce the need for companies to transport produce all across the world. You may also need to run fewer trips to the grocery store resulting in a reduced personal carbon footprint. The reduced transportation of produce results in better air quality for everyone.

Senior couple enjoying gardening as a social activityThere are more intangible benefits to gardening. Planting a garden requires planning and research into the proper planting methods and care of the plants. Engaging in challenging mental thought processes like this keeps your brain active. It is a social activity when you garden with your spouse or other loved ones. It is also a social activity where you can share your knowledge and experiences with other gardeners in your community or online. Gardening is a peaceful activity that can relieve stress. In fact, one study showed that offices with plants had more productive and less stressed employees.

If you’re completely overwhelmed by the process of gardening, start with just a few plants at the beginning. Once you’ve mastered these plants you can expand to other types. Look up gardening information in books, ask your neighbors or join a gardening group or class to become a master gardener. Happy gardening!

About the Author: Dr. Carolyn Anderson is the founder of Impowerage. Her mission in life is to empower seniors with the information they need to continue living healthy active lifestyles.

* Article was originally published in the Langley Times

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