Why Gardens Are So Important For The Physical Wellbeing of Older People

“Life begins the day you start a garden”- Chinese proverbs.

Here at Sunrise, we take pride in our gardens, and the opportunities they provide. We believe that by creating and nurturing glorious gardens and open spaces, they can provide unique caring qualities to our residents. Putting this into action, our residents, as well as their families and friends, are able to enjoy oases of large outdoor spaces at our care homes, complemented by an array of colourful flowers and calming landscapes which soothe and comfort the heart. We also encourage our residents to benefit physically from the opportunities a blossoming outside area can offer, whether that be a spot of gardening, or taking part in outdoor exercise classes. Put simply, we don’t underestimate the positive impact gardens have on our residents and their loved ones, as well as their quality of life.

The last twelve months have seen the country spend more time inside than they perhaps would have liked. At Sunrise, this challenging period reinforced our understanding that providing our residents with direct access to outside spaces is vital to promoting and improving their physical health and overall quality of life.

Stop and think for one moment, please. Being in the garden, and caring for plants, involves your whole body. The physical advantages are endless. Whether you are stretching for the hanging basket, or tugging on the most stubborn of weed, the body is being exercised without even realising.

Gardening can strengthen bones, condition muscles and joints, improve dexterity and balance, and control blood pressure, in turn reducing the risk of strokes, respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease. One hour of simple gardening can burn between 200 and 400 calories, without purposely exercising. For our residents who are happy to get involved with gardening, they regularly attest to these benefits for themselves.

Public Health England and the National Health Service have also carried out analysis to determine gardening as a targeted form of exercise that can be promoted in the UK. Therefore, activities such as raking, cutting, shovelling and digging are being considered to be in correlation with strength building, sleep promotion and the maintaining of a healthy weight.

And should the British weather allow it, outdoor gardens provide a great opportunity for Vitamin D production, an essential ingredient for a healthy body, through receiving sunlight. Studies have been conducted to conclude the behaviour of Vitamin D towards boosting the immune system, as well as stimulating the absorption of calcium and strengthening of bones. If your vitamin D levels are low, you have a greater risk of developing type II diabetes and dementia. The importance of giving our residents the opportunity to feel the warmth and glow of the sun safely and comfortably is therefore clear to see.

What if I am too old to navigate a garden? Nonsense. No age is too old, and careful consideration has been paid to ensure the gardens of our care homes are safe and welcoming to all. For example, hanging baskets, flower beds, handrails and paths have been tailored to avoid excessive strains, long walking routes and unnecessary bending. Our gardens are also designed to provide comfortable seating at regular intervals, as well as shaded area to keep those who enjoy it cool.

Another key motivation for investing in our wonderful gardens is the rewarding feeling our residents receive from watching them grow and change with the seasons. From starting a flower bed and watching it blossom, to nursing a tree from birth, and witnessing their colours shift from the golden browns of autumn to the lively greens of summer, our care home’s gardens are nurtured to enrich the purposeful lives of our residents.

To return to the Chinese proverb “life begins the day you start a garden”, here at Sunrise we prioritise the utilisation of garden space and are greatly aware of the physical benefits it can provide to all. After all, it is never too early to begin life once again.

For more information about Sunrise, or to find our nearest Sunrise home, click here – book a visit, take a tour and spend some time in our lovely gardens.