Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: Gardening Can Improve Your Health?

The BUZZ : Gardening can improve your health?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The latest research on horticulture therapy demonstrates that pleasant outdoor environments can reduce pain, anxiety, emotional stress and improve the overall feeling of wellness.

WHAT WE KNOW

Many perceive nature as a place to rest and recover from daily stresses. Now the concept of “being one with nature” is being turned into its own health therapy! Horticulture therapy involves trained therapist who work with clients on gardening-related activities to achieve specific goals. Therapeutic gardens have become very popular and now exist in many types of health facilities including public and private schools, nursing homes and senior centers, rehabilitation centers and hospitals.

Whether you tend your own garden or work with a trained horticulture therapist, there are many benefits associated with gardening …

  • Enhances Self-Esteem/Sense of Control: Knowing that your hard-work and dedication can create beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables gives a sense of competence and achievement.
  • Eases Stress/Improves Mood: Focusing your mind on gardening rather than other stressors in your life helps to eliminated stress. Rigorous chopping and pruning can relieve pent-up anger and frustrations.
  • Speeds Recovery from Illness: The sight of gardens has been shown to decrease the level of pain and number of postsurgical complications in several studies.¹
  • Encourages Social Interaction: In nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities gardening can bring together residents to work on a common goal. Home gardens also encourage socialization with friends and neighbors; people share gardening tips as well as their flowers or vegetables.
  • Promotes Exercise: Potting or planting seeds is a gentle exercise for all age groups! Weeding, digging, raking, and moving around the yard is a great aerobic exercise that can burn lots of calories!
  • Provides Fruits & Vegetables that benefit your health many ways!

HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?

A study reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that the percentage of green space in a person’s living environment has a positive association with the perceived general health of residents. The self-perceived health of all age groups (especially the elderly) is better when there’s more green space.¹

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality studied the effects of a rooftop healing garden on a patient’s well-being. The study found anecdotal evidence of benefits to patients. Another study showed that hospitalized patients with access to an outdoor garden reported less emotional distress and lower levels of pain when they were in the garden than when in the hospital.²

OUR ADVICE

Currently, what we do know is that gardening is beneficial to your health because it promotes exercise and provides fruits and vegetables that are loaded with health-promoting qualities!

Intrigued? If you don’t have much of a garden or have never learned how to garden, our How-to Guide provides the basic steps! You’ll need to start preparing soon so sign up for our monthly emails that remind you about What You Should Be Doing … When.

Once you’ve gained a sense of accomplishment from tending to your garden and producing a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables—you get to enjoy them too!

¹ Maas, J., R.A.Verheij, P.P. Groenewegen, S. Vries, et al. “Green Space, Urbanity, and Health: How Strong is the Relation?” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2006); 60: 587-92.

² Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality. “Rooftop Garden Provides Healing Environment, Enhancing Recovery for Rehabilitation Hospital Patients.” (http://www.innovations.ahrq.gov/content.aspx?id=2143) Accessed: 11/09/10.

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