You don’t have to look any farther than the back yard to find a reason to be fit after 50.
Gardening is a great hobby for people at any stage of life – and there’s no reason to give it up or avoid it just because of age. But make no mistake, gardening can be a good physical challenge. In fact, it’s a full-body workout that burns up to 300 calories in an hour. Think about the tasks of gardening: Squatting to tend the earth, carrying bags of dirt, pushing a wheelbarrow, and pulling up weeds. These are very similar to the movements of a great gym workout – and working out at the gym becomes increasingly important to gardening after a certain age. Millions of people over 50 have enjoyed the hobby throughout their lifetimes. Here are just five reasons they should keep it up.
Gardening improves strength, flexibility, balance and endurance.
It improves self-esteem and fights depression.
It lowers blood pressure and physical and mental stress.
It’s a great creative outlet.
And it provides a powerful social outlet, as well, with neighbors, community gardens, and even grandkids.
“The variety of tasks associated with gardening is one reason older adults are more likely to stick with their regimen,” says the American Society for Horticultural Science. “Gardening tasks change throughout the season and different activities are involved in daily chores.” Gardening can be a component of a lifestyle that’s good for mental health, too, including dementia. “It appears safe and reasonable to recommend … the maintenance of physical activity, especially daily gardening, in the hope of reducing the incidence of dementia in future years,” according to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Florist Deidra Champagne enjoys tending a vegetable garden in her off-time. “It is a mind-body connection – so you’re in touch with the soil, you’re in touch with nature. It’s very therapeutic.” Fitness Recommendations Take a few cautionary steps to avoid the heat and direct sunlight. Enjoy your hobby in the early morning or early evening. Use sunscreen and a hat. Wear good shoes. Deidra also recommends using raised garden beds to reduce bending and crouching. And come see us. Regular physical exercise – and a focus on “functional fitness” – keeps you able to perform your favorite activities late in life, and gardening is no different than, say golf, tennis or jogging. Squats, pushups, planks and other common movements will work your legs, core, back and arms to keep you in shape for gardening – and everyday tasks like bringing in the groceries and playing with the grandkids We’re happy to show you how short, fun workouts can improve your experiences in the garden – and other tasks you don’t immediately associate with exercise. The fact is, gardening is a great example of why mature adults need fitness, even if it never held much interest before. If you want to maintain your independence and quality of life throughout this part of life, then you need regular resistance and cardio training. To stay strong. To keep your balance. To enjoy what you love.