Gardening is a great form of exercise for mature women, a new study claims.
In a study published by the American Society for Horticultural Science, researchers analysed 24 elderly women at a senior community centre who participated in twice-weekly gardening sessions for an average duration of 50 minutes, and a control group of 26 women who did not.
Health assessments were done for both groups before and after the gardening intervention, which included tasks such as garden design and planning, making furrows in plots, making name tags for garden plots, planting transplants, garden maintenance and other activities such as flower arrangement.
Following the 15-week programme, women in the gardening intervention group exhibited a significant decrease in waist circumference, while the waist circumference of women in the control group showed a tendency to slightly increase. Furthermore, women in the gardening intervention group maintained their lean mass, but women in the control group lost lean mass over the period.
Women’s aerobic endurance was also affected, with the intervention group showing increased scores in an aerobic endurance test as well as improvements in hand dexterity.
Assessments revealed that women in the intervention group also showed “significant improvement” in cognitive function. Interestingly, women in the control group exhibited a “significant increase” in scores for depression, with symptoms progressing from normal before the intervention period to moderate depression symptom at the end of the study.
“Meanwhile, the depression scores of elderly women in the gardening intervention group did not change during this period,” the study authors stated.
The researchers said their results demonstrate that the gardening intervention improved the physical and psychological health conditions of the elderly women who participated.
“Moreover, satisfaction with the gardening intervention as a leisure time physical activity for health conditions of elderly women was very high,” they said.
The study was published in journal HortTechnology.
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