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Under the microscope: Gardening

This month: Gardening

Do you mean shrubs, planting, pruning… that type of gardening?

Yes, the very same.

Why are we looking at it here?

The first-ever randomised controlled trial of community gardening, which was funded by the American Cancer Society, shows it boosts fibre intake and physical activity – two known ways to reduce risk of cancer and chronic diseases – while decreasing stress and anxiety.

Sounds pretty obvious. Didn’t we know this already?

Some small observational studies have found that people who garden tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and have a healthier weight. But it has been unclear whether healthier people just tend to garden, or gardening influences health.

How did this study work?

A total of 291 non-gardening adults, average age 41, were recruited from the Denver area. More than a third were Hispanic and more than half came from low-income households.

In Spring, half were assigned to the community gardening group and half to a control group that was asked to wait one year to start gardening.

What did they find?

By autumn, those in the gardening group were eating, on average, 1.4 grams more fibre per day than the control group – an increase of about 7%. The gardening group also increased their physical activity levels by about 42 minutes per week.

What now?

The researchers hope the findings will encourage health professionals, policymakers and land planners to look to community gardens, and other spaces that encourage people to come together in nature, as a part of the public health system.

Where can I read more?


Image Credit | iStock

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