A new study published in the January issue of the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity suggests that one or more hours a week spent gardening can reduce falls, improve balance, increase walking speed and reduce the incidence of chronic conditions such as arthritis and high blood pressure in the elderly.
Researchers, Tuo-Yu and Megan Janke from the University of South Florida, compared the records of gardeners and non-gardeners and found significantly fewer gardeners had reported a recent fall.
Gardening is a very broad term that incorporates mowing lawns, planting seedlings, planting trees, and even picking flowers, fruits, or vegetables and different aspects of gardening will affect adults’ balance and gait in different ways.
This leads to a great deal of variability in the type and frequency of the tasks performed by older adult gardeners and the physical ability required for each of them.
One outcome of the findings is that it gardening could be incorporated into future fall-prevention programmes in which adults could advance to more difficult types of gardening as they become more comfortable and competent with the easier tasks.
This would allow an opportunity for progression in the level of physical activity for older adults which could further improve their overall health and functioning and reduce their risk of falling.