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Whether you want to eat produce grown through your own efforts, or value the pleasure that flowers and shrubs can bring, gardening can be a very satisfying pastime. You don’t need to have access to a large garden to realise many of its benefits – pots on a balcony or a window box can be put to good use to bring a flavour of the countryside into an urban setting.
Gardening has many health benefits and provides a work-out for the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. It can improve strength, endurance and flexibility, helping to prevent problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. In addition, physical exercise releases endorphins, which help to alleviate stress. These benefits have been recognised by many organisations (see farmgarden-health-benefits.)
In fact outdoor activities such as gardening are very important for helping the body to metabolise vitamin D during exposure to sunlight (seenhs-vitamin-D-sunlight.) Less tangibly, many people find that gardening engenders a sense of wellbeing. Gardens can attract bees, butterflies and other environmentally benign wildlife. You can have a significant positive environmental effect if you practise sustainable gardening rhs-sustainable-gardening.
If you are concerned about the physical demands of gardening, there are many options for making the job more manageable. You could incorporate raised beds into your garden, so as to reduce the need to bend down. There is also a wide range of tools available which are designed to make gardening less laborious (see carry-on-gardening).
Are you a would-be gardener with no access to a garden? Do you have a garden which you find difficult to manage? In some areas there are organisations which match people who want to garden with people who have space to share, such as the Age Scotland member group Edinburgh-Garden-Partners. Also some Age Scotland member groups provide offer help with garden maintenance, for example Age-Concern-Orkney.
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