This study examines whether participation in gardening predicts reduced fall risk and performance on balance and gait-speed measures in older adults. Data on adults age 65 and older (N = 3,237) from the Health and Retirement Study and Consumption and Activities Mail Survey were analyzed. Participants who spent 1 hr or more gardening in the past week were defined as gardeners, resulting in a total of 1,585 gardeners and 1,652 nongardeners. Independent t tests, chi square, and regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between gardening and health outcomes. Findings indicate that gardeners reported significantly better balance and gait speed and had fewer chronic conditions and functional limitations than nongardeners. Significantly fewer gardeners than nongardeners reported a fall in the past 2 yr. The findings suggest that gardening may be a potential activity to incorporate into future fall-prevention programs.
Chen is with the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Janke is with the Div. of Applied Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida Polytechnic, Lakeland, FL.