Sharing Life In The "Sun"

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Gardening gets left out of the mix when people talk about things that are good for you. I could tell you that you can get some delicious fresh food, or that it’s pretty relaxing to take care and grow plants, but what are some actual studied benefits of gardening? Here are five studied and observed benefits of gardening and why you should get out and start gardening.

1. Increased self-esteem and reduced stress levels
In the mid 1990’s a survey was taken of 320 people who were asked various questions about who they were, who they garden with, what benefits they saw from gardening, importance of gardening, and other questions. The results they had gathered was that parents and teachers who typically garden with children saw an increase in the children’s self-esteem and a reduced amount of stress.
For the full study: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/10/1/71.full.pdf

2. Improves physical health and well-being
In Manhattan, KS, 53 older adults participated in a study that classified them either as an active gardener, a light gardener, and non-gardeners. After being classified, they were tested in physical and mental tests such as the Short-Form 36 Health Survey, hand functionality by dynamometers, and testing BMD by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The results showed that active gardeners scored better on the Short-Form 36 Health survey and the active gardeners and light gardeners scored higher in the hand functionality tests than the non-gardeners.
For the full study: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/44/1/206.full.pdf+html

3. Improved access to more wholesome food options
In this study in Toronto, Ontario people who were a part of a community garden were observed and asked questions about what they experience when gardening. Participants noted that they felt that they were able to have access to fresh, wholesome food that they typically would have to pay more for and receive a less fresh product. They felt that they had saved money while receiving quality produce in exchange for their time and work. Some respondents claimed to have started eating more fruits and vegetables than they normally would due to the community garden, because the food was easily accessible compared to it not being there before.
For the full study: http://heapro.oxfordjournals.org/content/22/2/92.full.pdf+html

4. Provides a better sense of community and socialization opportunities
In the same study above another important benefit for gardening and community gardens was that there was a stronger sense of community for those who were working in the gardens together. There was the opportunity to discuss, collaborate, and work together in gardens that provided opportunities to socialize and communicate with others. One participant made the point of saying when they had extra produce from their garden they would give it away to someone else and share what they grew.

5. Gardeners have a higher perception of life satisfaction
Based on the Life Satisfaction Inventory A, a survey was done to see the difference between the life satisfaction perceptions by gardeners and non-gardeners. The survey gathered about 400 responses and asked questions related to components of quality of life and classified people as gardeners or non-gardeners. The results of the survey showed that gardeners were more positive in many areas that were surveyed compared to their non-gardener counterparts.
For the full study: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/40/5/1360.full.pdf+html

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