Gardening has some surprising benefits!
Green thumb or not, it might actually be beneficial to get out and get your hands dirty! A new study shows that working in your garden has some surprising health benefits that include reducing the risk of cancer. So, time to get your gardening gloves out and get to work!
Jill Litt, senior author and professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at The University of Colorado Boulder wanted to find ways to reduce certain health risks that are common among humans. Especially in people from low-income households. And she got inspired to look for these methods in gardening. “No matter where you go, people say there’s just something about gardening that makes them feel better,” said Litt in an article written by Healthnews. But if she wanted to make a case for gardening, she had to prove that there were actual benefits to horticulture.
And so, Litt conducted a study in which two groups participated. One group got to work in the community garden, the other group had to wait one year before they could start their gardening endeavors. The group that was allowed to garden received a beginner’s course, some seeds and their very own garden plot. The mental and physical health of both groups was monitored during the year.
One of the surprising outcomes from this study, was that the group that spent their time gardening ate more nutritious foods than the other group did. The former group ate 7% more fiber each day. According to James Hebert, director of the University of South Carolina’s cancer prevention and control program, this is a big change. He told Medical News Today: “An increase of one gram of fiber can have large, positive effects on health.”
But an increase in fiber wasn’t the only positive outcome for the gardening group. Their physical activity increased too. The group that participated in gardening increased their physical activity with 42 minutes every week. That means that these participants got 28% of the recommended amount of physical activity by something as simple as gardening! Another health benefit to gardening, was that participants reported that working on their garden reduced stress and anxiety. According to Litt, “…a holistic intervention such as community gardening can affect multiple outcomes — fiber, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity — and psychosocial health — stress and anxiety — in an acceptable and affordable way, for people of different social, economic, and demographic backgrounds.”
According to Rebecca Crane-Okada, Ph.D., R.N., advanced oncology nurse and professor of oncology at St. John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, these benefits could help reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
So even if you hate gardening, some of these benefits might make it a little better!