"They did tasks like mixing soil and filling pots," Park said. "They had to use their hands all of the time, so that was good exercise -- and they really enjoyed it."
Park, Shoemaker and Haub recently garnered national news coverage for a study published in the journal HortTechnology. The study probed the physical impact of gardeners working in their own gardens. The researchers showed that older adults can use gardening to achieve a moderate activity level and meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's exercise recommendations. News coverage included an article in the Los Angeles Times, http://tinyurl.com/a7ub4q
The trio of researchers also published a study in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills of the physical impact of individual gardening tasks. They found that a task like raking, which uses the whole body, had the most exercise benefit, whereas activities like mixing soil or transplanting seedlings give the most benefit to the upper body.
Shoemaker, who also researches gardening as a prevention strategy to childhood obesity, said that studying the physical benefits of gardening is important for older adults because gardening is a physically active hobby that provides an alternative to sports or other exercise.
"There's a lot of natural motivation in gardening," Shoemaker said. "For one thing, you know there's a plant you've got to go out and water and weed to keep alive. If we get the message out there that older adults can get health benefits from gardening, they'll realize that they don't have to walk around the mall to get exercise."
|Contact: Candice Shoemaker|
Kansas State University