Green therapy: The health benefits of gardening

As we age, engaging in meaningful activities that promote our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being is crucial. Gardening has emerged as a strategy we can lean on. Beyond just a hobby, gardening can offer numerous health benefits for older adults.


Physical exercise and mobility

Gardening is an enjoyable way for older adults to stay physically active. Planting, weeding, watering, and pruning provide gentle exercise for the body, enhancing strength, flexibility, and balance. Regular gardening routines can help maintain joint mobility and muscle tone, which can help reduce the risk of falls and improve overall physical fitness.


Promote positive mental health

Surrounded by nature's beauty, gardening can also relieve stress. The tranquil atmosphere of a garden fosters a sense of peace and calmness, reducing anxiety levels and promoting mental well-being. Working with plants and soil stimulates the production of serotonin, the "happy hormone," which can lead to a more positive mood.


Cognitive stimulation

Gardening is a mentally stimulating activity that challenges the brain, keeping cognitive functions sharp. Planning and organizing a garden layout, remembering plant names, and observing growth patterns encourage problem-solving and memory retention. Regular gardening helps older adults maintain cognitive abilities and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss.


Opportunities to socialize

For older adults who may experience feelings of isolation, gardening provides a great opportunity for social interaction. Joining a gardening club or community garden fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie among like-minded individuals. Sharing gardening tips, experiences, and produce with others can lead to lasting friendships and a stronger support system.


Embracing gardening as a pastime can significantly enhance the lives of older adults, promoting physical health, mental well-being, and social connections. While the observed benefits of gardening are promising, further research is needed to explore the effects of gardening on people with dementia and older adults with disabilities.


Whether you have a spacious backyard, a small balcony, or a community garden nearby, cultivating a garden offers numerous health benefits. So, grab your gardening tools and immerse yourself in the wonders of green therapy!

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DISCLAIMER: These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of new and old blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with changing public health recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website.