Gardening: Yes, It’s That Good

As advocates for health, wellness, and injury prevention, we routinely promote exercise such as running, swimming, bicycling, weightlifting, competitive sports, etc. What matters is finding the activities that boost your heart rate for a sustained amount of time, challenge your muscles, and – most importantly – keep you interested and engaged. So what about gardening?

As advocates for health, wellness, and injury prevention, we routinely promote exercise such as running, swimming, bicycling, weightlifting, competitive sports, etc. What matters is finding the activities that boost your heart rate for a sustained amount of time, challenge your muscles, and – most importantly – keep you interested and engaged. So what about gardening? Does this peaceful, perhaps even meditative, pastime convey health benefits in this same vein? For senior citizens, researchers found the answer to be “yes, very much so.”

Sin-Ae Park (Department of Environmental Health Science, Konkuk University, Seoul) recruited fifty participants from two senior community centers to conduct an interesting study. At one center, participants engaged in normal activities and were tracked as a control group. At the other center, study participants were taken outside to garden together.

After only 15 sessions of gardening, participants exhibited significantly improved muscle mass, aerobic endurance, hand dexterity, cognitive ability, and decreased waist circumference. In contrast, the control group had significantly decreased muscle mass and agility. The control group also demonstrated increasing rates of depression. What’s more, the seniors in the gardening group became more active in general.

Gardening turned out to be worthwhile exercise, but we have one more criterion. Did the participants enjoy it enough to want to keep exercising? Yes. Ninety-six percent of the gardeners reported being very satisfied with the intervention. Good exercise does not always have to be that intense activity you see at the gym – if that’s not your thing. Effective, worthwhile personal exercise routines begin where you are, both in terms of fitness and interests.

Source

Park SA, Lee AY, Son KC, Lee WL, Kim DS. Gardening intervention for physical and psychological health benefits in elderly women at community centers. HortTechnology. 2016 Aug 1;26(4):474-83.

 

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