Gardening is a hobby, vocation or a chore, depending on where you are coming from. For a growing segment of the population, gardening can be a hobby with health benefits.
Gardening has been found to be an effective physical activity that provides moderate exercise at a level that is healthy for older adults. Activities in gardening are also effective at strengthening hands and keeping them nimble.
As people age they can lose the strength and some of their ability to grip in their hands. Gardening is an activity that utilizes the hands and helps to keep them strong.
In previous research at Kansas State University, researched found that gardening is a moderate level activity that offers enough movement to keep older adults in good physical shape. Now the researchers have discovered that gardening’s health benefits include keeping hands nimble and strong.
The Kansas State University research is to be published in the journal HortScience in February.
Pinch force and hand strength are concerns for people as they age, according to Candace Shoemaker, professor of horticulture and Kansas State.
The team of researchers is studying ways that gardening affects the health of people who are older.
Researchers compared older adults who garden to older adults who do not garden. They measured sleep quality, bone mineral density, physical fitness, psychological health ad hand strength. They found that people who garden have better hand strength and healthier self esteem.
The gardeners in the study may have benefited from activities such as filling pots and mixing soil, which they enjoyed and which also exercised the hands.
Gardening involves a multitude of tasks, such as digging holes, raking, hoeing, weeding and planting. These tasks involve a variety of motions, so there are a number of different movements used. The researchers found that raking gives the whole body a workout and offers the most comprehensive exercise. Activities link planting plants and mixing soil benefited the upper body.
Researchers were encouraged at the results from this study and are now looking at data from a study on horticulture therapy targeted at stroke patients and strengthening their hands.
Shoemaker also researches gardening as a health strategy to attack childhood obesity. She stated in the press release that gardening offers physical benefits to older adults because it is an active hobby. Older adults may find they enjoy gardening as an alternative to walking or other sports.
Kansas State University: Gardening gives older adults benefits like hand strength and self-esteem. Press rellease February 3, 2009, EurekAlert.
Gardening Can Be Great Exercise for Older Adults
Landscaping a Small Yard or and Tiny Lot
Plant a Garden Path in the Landscape
Beautiful Landscaping with Rose Gardens
How to Plant a Perennial Border in the Landscape