Gardening is a very popular activity among retirees. And perhaps you would like to do more gardening in retirement too and wonder, what are the benefits of gardening after retirement?
The benefits of gardening after retirement are related to healthy aging, according to many studies. People between the age of 60 and 95 who are actively gardening show more social and physical benefits. Gardening strengthens the body and calms the mind. It reduces stress and spending time outdoors benefits the immune system. Also, soil triggers the body to release serotonin, the hormone that makes you feel happy.
This is just the tip of the iceberg that I want to share with you in this article. I researched hours to create a list with the 10 most significant benefits of gardening after retirement backed up by multiple scientific studies. And I’ll also share tips on how to start with gardening after retirement later in this article. Ready to find out more? Continue reading.
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1) Gardening Keeps You Active
Let’s start with one of the most well-known benefits of gardening; it keeps you active. Most of the time, gardening takes place outside. Almost all gardening activities are physical. Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to healthy aging.
Whether you need to weed the garden, plant new vegetables or plants, or are busy with spading, trimming, raking, and lifting, they all are physical activities. And that’s a good thing. According to the CDC, older adults need to have a minimum of physical activity a week for healthy aging.
The CDC recommends that older adults and retirees have at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobics intensity exercise and two times muscle strength training a week. When you’re gardening, you’ll get to these minimum requirements easily. So forget the expensive membership for your sports club, and start gardening!
Moderate aerobic intensity exercises are things like walking or jogging. Muscle strength exercises are often focused on lifting weights for the large muscle groups like your back, shoulders, legs, etcetera. According to the CDC, you’ll get even a better result when you focus on, what they call, multicomponent physical activity. In easy words, combining aerobic intensity exercises with muscle strengthening, and that’s precisely what you’re doing when you’re gardening!
2) Gardening Increases Your Social Interactions
Many retirees who start gardening join a community garden. Gardening in a community garden has many benefits. You can learn how to improve your gardening skills from more experienced gardeners. The most significant benefit of gardening in a community garden is that it increases your social interactions.
You’ll be part of a community and get to know many new people with the same interests. Maybe you make some new friends as well.
When you’re retired and getting to an older age, you must focus on staying socially active. According to this article on Harvard Health Publishing, a broad network of social interactions is related to healthy aging. Studies show that older adults with interactions beyond their usual social circle, like family and friends, have more health benefits. They are more likely to have greater positive moods, fewer negative feelings, and are more physically active.
So, even when you have a garden of your own, you might want to join a community garden as well. This way, you keep up with your social connections and get the most benefits of gardening.
3) Gardening Sharpens Your Mind
Until now, we covered the physical and social benefits of gardening. In the following parts, we’ll focus on the mental aspect of gardening. To start with that gardening sharpens your mind.
You might think it’s easy to plant and harvest vegetables, and when you know what you’re doing, it is. But that’s like with everything, when you know how things work, it’s easy. When you just start with gardening, you probably need to learn a lot of new things. If you’re more experienced with gardening, you get to the challenges of when to harvest, the best time to plant, which fertilizer to use, or how to deal with insects, etcetera.
Gardening comes with a lot of challenges you need to rethink and plan. These challenges sharpen your mind. Did you know that gardening is related to reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s disease?
According to this article on WebMD, regular physical activity like gardening burns calories, and that’s associated with more grey matter in the brain. From the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Cyrus Raji says more grey matter means a healthier brain, and that’s related to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A different study, Cognitive and physical activity and dementia, by Jenna Najar, Svante Östling, Pia Gudmundsson, et al. published on American Academy of Neurology showed that regular physical activity is related to a lower chance of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is essential to start early with these activities. For this study, researchers followed a group of 800 women for 44 years from 1968 to 2012. According to the study, the sooner you start in your life, the more benefit you’ll have.
4) Gardening Reduces Stress
Gardening is a mindful activity. When you’re busy with gardening, you need to focus on what you’re doing. The different activities don’t allow you to hurry or do several things at once (multitasking). When gardening, you automatically come in a more relaxing work pattern, focusing on one task after the other. And the fact that gardening often takes place outside also helps that you’re getting more relaxed.
Being mindful when completing a task reduces stress because it lowers your cortisol levels, known as the stress hormone. There’s actually another scientific reason why gardening helps with stress reduction.
When you’re gardening, you’ll work with soil. According to this article on Science Daily, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that soil contains an anti-inflammatory fat responsible for stress reduction. They found that a strain of bacterium in the soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin when we get in contact with it. This happens by inhaling or eating the fresh vegetables when there’s still some dirt on them. Serotonin is known as the happy hormone, the counterpart of the stress hormone.
5) Gardening Is Related To Healthy Aging
When you’re combining the first four benefits that I described, it might be obvious that gardening is related to healthy aging. There’s a common agreement that when it comes to healthy aging. The most important thing you can do is stay physically and mentally active, follow a nutritious diet, and avoid stress. Gardening combines all these factors.
Have you ever heard of people living in Okinawa, Japan? This place is part of the world’s Blue Zones. The area’s in the world where people live much longer than average. People living in the different Blue Zones all have a similar lifestyle. They are characterized as staying active, eating healthy, and low on stress.
As you can read in the best-selling book Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life (available on Amazon), people in Okinawa, Japan, are staying physically active until a late age. Often, their physical activity exists of gardening.
6) Gardening Helps To Eat More Fresh Vegetables
It’s fun to grow your own fresh vegetables when gardening. The best part of it is that you can decide if you want to use fertilizer. Some artificial fertilizers are known to be less healthy, so when growing your own vegetables, you might want to go the ‘biological way,’ using only natural products.
Either way, when you harvest your freshly grew vegetables, it even more fun to get into the kitchen and create lovely meals.
7) Gardening Helps You To Go Outside
Did you know that many retirees spend most of their time after retirement at home? According to the American Time Use Survey of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US citizens age 65 years and older spent more than 7 hours a day on leisure and sports activities. Well, that sounds right, you might think. However, watching television counts 4.5 hours a day!
Oof! That’s a lot of time people watch television shows. I strongly recommend that you try to do something different than the average. Of course, watching TV is fun, and it can be inspiring, but it’s even more inspiring to go outside so that you can be more active. As we discussed earlier in this article, an active lifestyle is related to healthy aging.
Gardening is the perfect activity to help you go outside. The activities that come with gardening take time, and you need to focus on completing them. When gardening, you’re busy with a mindful activity and be physically active as well. There are more benefits of being outside.
Harvard Health Publishing shared in this article reasons why being outside is important. They say that being outside;
- Benefits your vitamin D levels, which is related to many health benefits,
- It gets you more exercise. The article mentions being outside, meaning less time in front of the television and more time walking and other physical activities,
- It makes you happier,
- Improves concentration.
I love being outside myself. At least once a day. I’ll go for a walk for a minimum of one hour. It helps me relax and energize. Helping out in the garden is something I love to do as well. So, my recommendation would be, turn off that TV, join a community garden, and get yourself outside!
8) Gardening Is A Cheap Hobby
You might want to start with gardening but still, wondering what it will cost you? Well, here’s the thing, you can spend as much as you want.
You can start your small herbs and vegetable garden for even a few dollars a month. It doesn’t have to cost much. If you don’t have a garden at home or enough space, you can start with a vertical garden and plant your own herbs and vegetables. This vertical garden available on Amazon is a great product to start with.
Often joining a community garden doesn’t cost you anything. Visit the American Community Garden Association to find a community garden near you.
If you want to get your gardening tools, this might cost you some money in the first place. However, it will be a good investment because they often last you a lifetime when you buy quality products. Quality products will help you enjoy your gardening experience even more. This gardening tool set on Amazon is a complete toolset and has everything you’ll need to get you started.
9) Gardening Improves Balance & Coördination
Gardening is physical activity, and without even being aware of it, you are busy with all kinds of exercises. We already discussed the health benefits that come with that and the importance of being physically active. When you’re busy gardening, you’ll get to the minimum physical activity requirement of the CDC effortlessly.
Another great health benefit of gardening is that it improves your balance and coordination, resulting in less chance of falls and being able to walk long distances. According to this research, older people of 65+ who are active gardening for at least one hour or more a week reported a better balance, higher walking speed. These people also had fewer chronic conditions than nongardeners in the same age category.
10) Gardening Boosts Self-Esteem
According to this research, people who are gardening often show a much higher body appreciation than nongardeners. In easier words, gardeners are happier with their bodies and have more self-esteem. It sounds like a logical conclusion, knowing all the health benefits of gardening. When you’re often outside, being physically active, it all improves the production of serotonin, known as the happy hormone. And we all know, when you’re feeling good, your self-esteem is also on a higher level.
How To Start With Gardening
Reading about all the benefits of gardening probably got you excited to start with it. Gardening is a great activity you can spend as much time on you like. But you might wonder where to start. There are three easy ways to start with gardening.
Follow A MasterClass
I would recommend everyone interested in gardening to follow the MasterClass of Ron Finley. Ron Finley is an LA-based fashion designer and known as the urban gardener. In his MasterClass, he teaches how to easily start with gardening, even when you don’t have a garden. His video lessons are easy to follow and interesting for people living in urban and rural areas.
The hands-on tips and tricks Ron Finley teach in his MasterClass get you up and running with gardening in no time.
The MasterClass platform is an online course platform where you can follow video MasterClass of the best-known people in the world. There are over 100 different classes available, and each month new classes are added. You can get full access to the platform when you have an annual membership. Learn more about MasterClass here.
Start With A Small Herbs & Vegetable Garden
The first steps are the hardest! So instead of starting with a big garden that might be too challenging, you can easily start with your own herbs & vegetable garden. If you learned how to grow fresh herbs and vegetables over time, it’s easier to take on other steps and expand your garden. You can find all the supplies you need on Amazon.
Join A Community Garden
When you’re not experienced with gardening and learn from others who are more experienced, I recommend joining a community garden. You can easily learn from other gardeners. You’ll learn how to garden in no time! Find your closest community garden on the website of the American Community Garden Association.