Experts say one activity 'good for physical and mental health'

A retired couple having a coffee together
Getting out there is good for you -Credit:Getty Images

In the UK more than one in five people could be doing more exercise for good health. While many of us know that we should be more active, we often think that this means having to head to the gym, overlooking other ways to get moving.

Experts at luxury care home provider Ideal Carehomes, which runs its annual Gardens in Bloom competition throughout the summer, reveal the health benefits of gardening and how it can encourage people to lead healthier lives, while residents speak of how it helps them.

Physical health benefits of gardening

There are many physical benefits for the body associated with gardening; it's a hobby that combines aerobic activity with strength. Gardeners are constantly using and stretching their muscles, as well as keeping their joints moving.

This helps to relieve muscle tension and promotes healthier joints. Being outside and safely enjoying the sun also helps the body to absorb more vitamin D which is important to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

Lisa Dews, home manager at Woodland View, said: “We love to see our residents out in the garden watching them plant and prune. Gardening is a great option as we can adapt the tasks to get everyone involved and enjoy some active time, regardless of their physical ability.”

Gardening has also been shown to improve balance and dexterity, with studies showing that those who do more gardening are associated with less risk of future falls. Having good balance is important, especially as we age, so it’s a good idea to keep up with activities that can help improve this. With 30 minutes of gardening burning more calories than 30 minutes of yoga, it’s a great hobby to choose to stay active while building balance too.

Mental health benefits of gardening

Physical activity has been found to decrease the risk of some mental health conditions by up to 30%, so it’s no surprise that gardening can also be beneficial. Helping to provide the brain with stimulation through movement, sights, sounds and smells, gardening is a great mood enhancer.

Pat Isherwood, resident at Launton Grange, a previous joint winner of the Ideal Carehomes Garden in Bloom competition, said: “We have so much fun in the garden enjoying the fresh air and putting in the work to prepare it for Gardens in Bloom, it gives us something to focus on! Even when it’s not competition time, we all love getting out in the garden to help give our bodies and minds a boost.”

Nutritional benefits of gardening

Gardening often goes hand-in-hand with growing fruit and veg, something which in turn promotes a healthier diet. Studies suggest that people who garden more frequently were associated with higher levels of fruit and vegetable consumption. Residents at Cadley Hill View designed a new vegetable patch for last year’s Gardens in Bloom competition.

Rachael Woollett, a resident at the home, said: “It’s brilliant that we have been able to grow our own lettuces, they are most definitely tastier being homegrown – Cadley grown! It's more natural and organic which is always preferred, planted, and picked by our own fair hands.”