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My garden does not whet the appetite; it satisfies it. It does not provoke thirst through heedless indulgence, but slakes it by proffering its natural remedy. Amid such pleasures as these have I grown old.
– Epicurus

A recent study in the American Heart Association’s Journal Circulation, found that heart health can be improved by regularly engaging in leisure and household activities such as gardening.

Gardening is not new to rehabilitation.  Spending time outdoors, embracing nature and actively engaging in an pastime seems intuitive to good health.

Still, it is sometimes overlooked as one of the best natural remedies that can help in fighting health problems associated with old age and dementia. Gardening can provide the health and fitness a person requires to stay active. The effects of gardening are rejuvenating for the elderly.

Unlike previous research, Circulation  tracked participants for over 10 years and demonstrated that activity over the long haul consistently  reduced inflammatory markers and therefore may be important in preventing physical effects related with ageing.

Previously, Virginia Tech had issued a related study on the benefits of horticulture therapy. It concluded that the benefits included:

  • improvement in attention
  • reduction of pain symptoms
  • lessening of stress
  • modulation of agitation
  • reduction in medications needed
  • improvements in symptoms of dementia
  • reduction in number of falls

These successes are popping up in the news more and more.  Today, for instance, a U.K. man shared his ability to overcome depression through gardening.

However, one report found that not all gardens are equally beneficial. “Among their findings: users mostly visited gardens seeking relaxation and restoration from mental and emotional fatigue. Tree-bordered vistas of fountains or other water features, along with lush, multi-layered greenery of mature trees and flowering plants, appealed most.”

Other researchers found that creating a standard checklist of features can ensure the healing power of gardens.  These elements include:

  • Lush greenery
  • Sculptures and variety in views
  • Atmosphere that facilitates interaction
  • Interactive engagement of multiple senses
  • Accessible entryways and pathways
  • Relaxing sounds

In addition to adapting garden spaces, tools and equipment too can be modified or adapted to help the elderly or disabled begin or continue gardening while reducing physical stress.

Please share your gardening health successes with us and tell us what gardening means to you.

Conflict of interests

[Photo Credit: HyperBob, Flickr]

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About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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