Why gardening is so good for the soul during retirement
The latest research, recently released by The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), really does prove that gardening is good for you, and never has this been more widely felt than during a global pandemic. Whilst retirement is something many look forward to, it has also been found that some 10% of retirees feel bored or even depressed after giving up work. However, it has been proven that taking up a hobby like gardening helps you to engage with the outdoors whilst working on a fulfilling project that benefits both you and the environment. There is growing evidence that links gardening to improvements in wellbeing and the RHS study indicates that people who garden – or have access to a garden everyday – have wellbeing scores 6.6% higher and stress levels 4.2% lower than those who do not garden at all. Indeed, the research goes on to conclude that gardening just two to three times a week also leads to better well-being and lower stress levels.
RHS wellbeing fellow and lead author of the research, Dr LaurianeChalmin-Pui said: “This is the first time the ‘dose response’ to gardening has been tested and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the more frequently you garden – the greater the health benefits. In fact, gardening has the same positive impact on wellbeing as undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running. When gardening, our brains are pleasantly distracted by nature around us. This shifts our focus away from ourselves and our stresses, thereby restoring our minds and reducing negative feelings.”
The power of green space
The importance of staying active and healthy in retirement has been well documented, and gardening and access to green space provides an easy and enjoyable way to maintain fitness and improve physical health. The manual nature of gardening keeps the body moving about whilst utilising core strength, balance and mobility; what is more you are able to reap the benefits of exposure to the sun and Vitamin D which helps improve the immune system’s health and aids its ability to fight off disease and viruses. As well as being a fantastic way to relax and lower stress levels in the same way that exercise would, gardening is also a brilliant way to reduce the loneliness that some retirees can experience. Award-winning and internationally renowned retirement community operator, LifeCare Residences, also recognises the importance of staying physically active for the wellbeing of their residents. All three LifeCare Residences communities benefit from easy access to outdoor space – and the power that green space provides as a force for good has never been more important or apparent as the UK emerges from winter lockdown. Despite being situated in the heart of London, residents at luxury retirement community Battersea Place are able enjoy a contemporary onsite garden, as well as having 200 acres of wide-open space in the form of Battersea Park on their doorstep. In addition to this, many of the apartments at Battersea Place benefit from having sun-filled balconies and many residents have been known to enjoy planting a variety of flowers, shrubs and herbs in pots and tending to them. At Somerleigh Court in Dorchester, Dorset, residents are right on the doorstep of Borough Gardens, a beautiful 19th century park laid out to the design of William Goldring – who was the brain behind Kew Gardens. Residents are also able to access the fitness equipment at the park as well as the four tennis courts which are open all year round.
Grove Place, another beautiful retirement community operated by LifeCare Residences, set in the rural Hampshire countryside provides access not only to 27 acres of spectacular grounds, including a historical sunken garden and meadows bursting with flowering plants – residents also have the luxury of their own private balconies and patios from which to tend to a spot of gardening. Indeed, Robin Collins who is in charge of the beautiful grounds at Grove Place – having worked in horticulture for over 34 years – is only too delighted to provide expert advice and tips on creating a bright and healthy patio. He advises that residents choose the pots they like best and select plants of differing heights and forms. When considering the typical set up for a patio or balcony, a taller shrub or grass works well in the corners with three smaller bedding plants or shrubs around the base of the taller plant to soften the view. Robin has been based at Grove Place for over three years and in that time has used his skill and expertise to make wonderful changes to the landscape which the residents greatly enjoy and appreciate. These include adding a Wildlife and Bluebell walk, as well as adding to the existing kitchen garden and orchard. Under his eye, over 2,000 trees have been planted at Grove Place to make a woodland walk and improve the habitat for local wildlife.
Resident Barbara Wood not only relishes the many walks in the rolling Hampshire countryside, but also the ability to turn her hand to gardening; “Our apartment is on the ground floor, and via French doors in our living room, we have easy access to a private terrace and the grounds beyond. This allows me to indulge my green-fingered gardening hobby in my own patch of Grove Place.” At the heart of Grove Place is a 16th century Grade I listed Manor House, complimented with a kitchen garden and orchards which yield vegetables that are used in the high-class restaurant. The kitchen garden further enriches the lives of the residents by helping provide a plethora of home-grown, seasonal and organic produce all bursting with health benefits. Even the leaves from the raspberries are used for tea infusions!
Nurturing social relationships has a significant effect on mental and physical health, with research showing that adults who socialise enjoy better health. Working together in Grove Place’s beautiful kitchen garden provides an ideal place for meeting and interacting with others, along with the added satisfaction of digging in and growing nutritious food.
Despite the many ‘health benefits’ that gardening and green spaces provide, this is not the key motivator according to the recent RHS study. ‘Pleasure and enjoyment’ were the main reasons why six people in ten, garden. Retirement offers the time and space to try new hobbies and provides an ideal opportunity to take up gardening. It offers health, mood, community involvement benefits and more by keeping you active and even encourages a healthier diet. Outdoor tasks are known to improve your mind and immune system. Surrounding yourself with a natural environment reduces stress, provides relaxation and can even improve healing processes. Many hospitals consider therapy gardens an important part of a healing process or lowering blood pressure and stress. It has been said that just three to five minutes spent looking at a garden reduces anxiety and pain and brings about a more peaceful state of mind. Gardening is merely one of the many ways that the team at LifeCare Residences encourages residents to participate in activities they enjoy to maintain an overall sense of well-being.
If you would like to learn more about our offering and how we can enhance the ‘every day’ please call T: 0800 009 6950.
For those who are unable to visit in person, we also offer virtual tours of our communities at your convenience.