Why Spending Time in the Garden is Good for Body, Mind, and Soul

• Written by Kyle

This article was contributed by Annie Button

As we age, it becomes more important than ever to find fulfilling and meaningful activities that also provide health benefits. Gardening and spending time in your garden is one hobby that can do both. A garden has the potential to nourish you in so many ways, keeping you fit and well, and helping you stay independent for longer.

With the right approach and some changes when needed, gardening can see you through life’s seasons and remain a source of joy, satisfaction, and self-reliance for years to come. Whether you’re an active gardener or prefer to simply and contemplate life while enjoying nature’s peace and quiet, a garden sustains you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Reaping the Health Rewards

Gardening is brilliant exercise for older folks. All that digging, planting, weeding, and pushing a wheelbarrow does wonders for your strength and flexibility without straining yourself. There’s no need to go to the gym when you have your own workout in the garden! Even simple tasks like deadheading flowers or mowing the lawn with one of those lightweight mowers provide gentle movement.

Being out in the fresh air and sunlight does you good as you age. Sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D, which is important for bone and joint health. Getting some sun puts a smile on your face too, giving you a dose of the feel-good hormones that boost your mood. No need to bake yourself, though – just being out for 30 minutes a few times a week in the warmer months is enough. Wear a hat, cover up, slap on the sunscreen, and think of ways to add sun shade to your patio while you’re at it.

If you’re into vegetable gardening, you’ll be rewarded with healthy homegrown food too. There’s nothing quite like veggies and fruits harvested from your own patch. They have loads more nutrients than whatever you’d buy in the supermarket that’s been picked weeks ago and shipped halfway around the world! Some light gardening before dinner is sure to stimulate your appetite, and knowing you grew the food yourself makes it taste even better.

There’s always something to see, smell, or touch in a garden – it stimulates your senses in spades. This kind of sensory experience, combined with gentle activity and the restorative effects of green space, works wonders for physical and mental wellbeing at any age but especially in senior life. A garden gives you an escape from the stresses and tensions of the world, and an opportunity to connect with nature in your own little refuge.

Cultivating Wellness

Gardening is enormously beneficial for the mind and soul. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, which many of us struggle with as we get older. Spending time doing light gardening tasks releases feel-good hormones that lift your mood and ease worries. In a recent interview, Monty Don, everyone’s favourite gardening guru, summer it up perfectly. Gardening, he said, “eases a troubled mind. It is happiness.”

The garden gives you a peaceful space for mindfulness – focusing on the task at hand helps calm racing thoughts. If you’re looking for tips, here’s how one gardener does it. Learning to live more in the present moment rather than dwelling on the uncertainties of the future, has significant rewards for wellbeing and longevity.

Staying socially and cognitively active is crucial for brain health as you age. Gardening exercises your brain through learning new skills, designing and planning your garden, and keeping track of seasonal changes. Figuring out solutions to challenges that arise, like how to get rid of aphids or dealing with fungal disease, keeps your mind sharp as a tack. These mental gymnastics build cognitive reserve, helping stave off memory decline and reducing the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s as the years pass.

Gardening provides a sense of purpose that can help combat feelings of loneliness or aimlessness in retirement and old age. Caring for your garden gives you motivation and productivity, with daily rewards and a seasonal cycle of renewal. The garden is always changing, so there are constant small tasks to provide routine and structure to your day. Growing food, plants, and flowers give you a nurturing role and outlet for creativity that does not end when you stop work.

There is also a spiritual dimension to gardening, particularly for older generations. Working with your hands in the soil, seeing nature unfold, and being outdoors with living things awakens a sense of appreciation for life’s simple moments. A garden is a place for mindfulness, reflection, and grounding oneself, giving life deeper meaning that transcends mere productivity or purpose. For many gardeners, time spent working and communing with the garden becomes a meditative, rejuvenating ritual.

Senior Green Thumb Tips

  • Focus on maintenance rather than new projects. Simple tasks like deadheading, weeding, pruning, and mowing are gentle and manageable. Avoid starting anything too ambitious!
  • Use long-handled tools to avoid bending a stooping. Look for products designed especially for elderly gardeners. Things like trowels, forks, and pruners with extended handles minimise strain.
  • Start with a small, easy-to-care-for plot and build up slowly. A few raised beds for veggies or a small flower border are good options if mobility is an issue. Expand when you feel up to it.
  • Choose low-maintenance plants. Perennials, shrubs, and trees that require minimal pruning and dividing are ideal. Evergreen varieties provide year-round interest without much effort.
  • Make sure that all paths and walkways are safe with non-slip surfaces. Gravel, mulch, and grass can be unstable underfoot, while paving slabs, stepping stones, or concrete are better options.
  • Install garden seating at regular intervals. Benches, chairs, and tables give you an opportunity to rest and enjoy the fruits of your labour. They also make socialising with friends and family in your garden more comfortable.
  • Consider accessibility when planning and planting. Space plants generously and install trellises to avoid overcrowding. Entrances and gates should be wide enough for wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility scooters to manoeuvre.
  • Use containers if mobility is limited. Pots, planters, and raised beds bring the garden to you and can be placed on porches, patios, and even balconies. You can plant veggies, flowers, herbs, and small shrubs to enjoy gardening where you want.
  • Make gardening comfortable with good clothing, hats, gloves, and sturdy boots. Knee pads, gardening seats, and lightweight tools also help make the experience easy and pain-free. Look after yourself with regular breaks, stay hydrated, and avoid the midday sun.
  • Finally, ask family members for help with more strenuous chores. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks like lawnmowing, hedge clipping, and heavy digging when you need an extra pair of hands. Let others share in the joy of gardening with you!

Gardening with Confidence

It’s important not to push yourself too hard in the garden. As well as knowing your limits, it can also be reassuring to know that help is readily available if you have a fall or otherwise need help. LifeConnect24’s personal alarms come with enough range to provide peace of mind throughout the home and garden – our revolutionary SmartLife Alarm has a range of up to 600m from pendant to base unit for added reassurance. You can also opt for our fall detector plans, which will send an automatic alert if they sense you have fallen.

To find out more about the LifeConnect24 personal alarm service, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can speak to our team by calling on 0800 030 8999. Alternatively, order your personal alarm online today.

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