Gardening Activities and Physical Health Among Older Adults: A Review of the Evidence

J Appl Gerontol. 2016 Jun;35(6):678-90. doi: 10.1177/0733464814563608. Epub 2014 Dec 16.


Few studies have examined the health-related consequences of gardening among older adults. This scoping review summarizes and characterizes current research that examines the relationship between physical health and participation in planned gardening activities, including establishing, maintaining, or caring for plants. Six databases were searched. Eligible studies were published between 2000 and 2013, were published in English, and assessed different aspects of physical health (e.g., functional ability, energy expenditure, injury) for older adults who had participated in a planned gardening activity. Of the eight eligible studies identified with these criteria, four assessed energy expenditures and four assessed physical functioning. Studies assessing energy expenditures documented that the majority of gardening tasks were classified into low-to-moderate intensity physical activity. The current literature does not provide sufficient evidence of the physical functioning consequences of gardening. Future studies should consider how specific gardening interventions help older adults meet physical activity guidelines.

Keywords: gardening tasks; older adults; physical activity; programs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise*
  • Gardening / methods*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Physical Fitness
  • Task Performance and Analysis