New study claims Gardening offers elderly women various health benefits
It is an unfortunate fact of life that as we age, our ability to exercise becomes limited. A more sedentary lifestyle also usually means weight gain, reduced stamina and a variety of other maladies that are consistent with old age. However, a new study has shown that just two 50 minute sessions of typical gardening tasks such as watering flowers and potting plants can have a significant positive impact in brain function, weight loss and endurance.
The study which was conducted by the American Society for Horticultural Science, involved 24 elderly women who were resident at an old people’s home and another 26 elderly women who were based at a senior community centre, who were the control group.
The 24 participants from the old people’s home were involved in 15 sessions of gardening, whilst the 26 within the control group did not participate in any gardening activity.
The health of both sets of groups were assessed prior to the session and subsequently after the twice weekly, 50 minute sessions.
The tasks set for the intervention group included low to moderate intensity physical activities such as garden maintenance, flower arranging as well as garden design and planning.
After the program had been completed, the health assessments showed that the intervention group had a significant decrease in waist circumference, increased levels of endurance, improved manual dexterity and enhancements to cognitive functions as well.
In contrast, the control group who undertook no gardening tasks over the same period showed increased waist size, loss of lean mass and significant increase in depression scores from normal to moderate depression. Interestingly the group who undertook the gardening activities showed no difference in their depression scores.
Overall the study showed that regular low to moderate exercise such as gardening, which involves a variety of different facets, improved the overall health of those who participated. In fact physical and psychological improvements were seen across the board, which as the researchers stated, showed that gardening intervention was beneficial to the participants health.
Enjoyment of the task may well have also been a factor, rather than just the physical exercise element. Interest in a particular activity where the physical aspect is a by product of the activity itself, such as gardening could well make all the difference.