Exploring summer hobbies at The Admiral: benefits of gardening for seniors

Apr 16, 2024

As the weather gets warmer, residents at The Admiral at the Lake spend more time enjoying outdoor activities in the beautiful city of Chicago. Luckily, they don’t have to travel far to enjoy all the outdoor activities that spring and summer have to offer. The Admiral has unique opportunities for residents to get outdoors and engage with other members of the community. Gardening, for example, is a hobby shared by a lot of our residents. Not only is gardening a great way to socialize, it also provides a number of mental and physical health benefits.

Benefits of gardening for seniors

Improving the immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses

Believe it or not, the body is capable of photosynthesis. In fact, our version of photosynthesis is how we create an essential vitamin for optimal health–vitamin D. When the weather is nice and the sun is shining, spending time outdoors boosts the amount of vitamin D the body can produce. Vitamin D improves our immune system’s ability to fight disease, can lower the likelihood of developing various cancers and helps to strengthen our bones. When vitamin D levels are low, we are at a greater risk of developing other health issues like dementia and type II diabetes in the future. Our residents that are passionate about outdoor gardening are improving their levels of vitamin D while taking proactive steps to support their overall health.

Gardening as exercise

At times, it can be tough to find an activity that keeps you motivated and consistently engaged when it comes to exercise. The good news is that if you love to garden, you are already exercising. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association say that gardening and light yard work count towards weekly goals of moderate exercise, which can be key in maintaining a healthy weight. 

In addition to the weight management benefits, gardening offers other benefits of physical activity, including improving endurance, strength and flexibility, which are all essential in creating, and maintaining, a healthy body.

Our outdoor gardens provide an excellent place for residents to engage in a form of physical activity that doesn’t feel like a conventional form of exercise.

Mental health benefits

In addition to a plethora of physical health benefits, gardening also has various mental health benefits. Gardening helps to create a “growth mindset” when it comes to plants in the garden. This often transfers over to other aspects of life, including personal growth, growth of relationships, etc. From a psychological perspective, this mindset helps promote the idea that making mistakes is okay because you learn from them. While this is certainly true in the garden, it applies to many other areas of life as well. 

In addition to the above, gardening also helps reduce stress. Spending time outdoors and doing an activity that yields attainable and beautiful outcomes, brings joy to gardeners. It also provides a designated time to be outside, enjoy the fresh air and disconnect from television, electronics, and other distractions. Gardening also encourages living in the moment, reducing stress from other areas of your life. The Admiral’s garden allows residents to destress and disconnect in an environment where they can truly immerse themselves in the outdoors.

The benefits of gardening are seemingly endless and our residents have the opportunity to pursue those benefits by utilizing our outdoor garden spaces during warmer months. It’s also a treat to see all the delicious food and beautiful flowers grow from start to finish! 

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