From the garden to longevity: what is the impact of gardening on health and well-being, according to science

Going out to care for plants is a habit that can reduce the risk of cancer, according to this scientific work / (Freepik)
Going out to care for plants is a habit that can reduce the risk of cancer, according to this scientific work / (Freepik)

There are actions and moments that can change the course of our history in every way. If we talk specifically about Healthit is known that some Everyday habits greatly influence our organism for better or worse. In this sense, recently a scientific study conducted by experts from the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU Boulder), United States, postulated that the gardening can have a positive and significant impact on the mental health and in the prevention of cancer.

Going out into the garden, watering the plants and caring for the colors of the flowers are, according to these researchers, initiatives that contribute to well-being. I eat? Among other things, by reducing the levels of stress and of anxiety.

One of the paper’s authors, Jill Litt, who is a professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder, noted that these findings “provide concrete evidence that community gardening could play an important role in the prevention of cancer, chronic diseases and mental health disorders”. As the expert mentioned, if this outdoor activity is done in a group, it can be even healthier.

If gardening is practiced in a group, the benefits can be even greater, experts said (Pexels)
If gardening is practiced in a group, the benefits can be even greater, experts said (Pexels)

To arrive at these results, the American experts studied 493 adults who were on waiting lists to participate in community gardens in the Denver and Aurora regions. None of them had attended this kind of spaces before. Once the gardening and planting chores began, they found that the participants ate more fiber and were more physically active, two of the best-known ways to reduce the risk of cancer and chronic disease. Second, the authors observed significant decreases in stress and anxiety.

“Unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and social disengagement are important modifiable risk factors for noncommunicable and other chronic diseases, which could be alleviated by nature-based community interventions. We tested whether a community gardening intervention could reduce these common health risks in an adult population that is diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status,” they stated in the study, which was published in the scientific journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

Among other things, the study showed that those who participated in the gardening groups consumed, on average, 1.4 more grams of fiber per day. “An increase of one gram of fiber can have large positive effects on health,” said another of the authors, James Hebert, who is director of the cancer control and prevention program at the University of South Carolina.

In some cases, this activity involves socializing with others (Pexels)
In some cases, this activity involves socializing with others (Pexels)

Obviously, the benefits of caring for a garden are profound and go beyond the merely nutritional. “Even if they come to the garden looking to grow their own food in a quiet place, they start looking at the neighbor’s plot and share techniques and recipes, and over time social relationships they flourish,” Litt said.

“It’s not just about fruits and vegetables. It is also about being in a natural outdoor space together with others. No matter where you go, people say there’s something about gardening that makes them feel better.”

It is not the first time that science has focused on housework and its health benefits. Previously, a study published in the specialized magazine Neurology, who belongs to the American Academy of Neurology, found that certain tasks, such as cooking, cleaning or organizing frequent gatherings with family and friends, may be associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, even in people older than 80 years.

Gardening has several health benefits, such as reducing the risk of Alzheimer's (Pexels)
Gardening has several health benefits, such as reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s (Pexels)

“Our study found that engaging in healthy physical and mental activities more frequently can reduce the risk of dementia,” said Huan Song, lead author of the paper and a professor at Sichuan University in Chengdu.

Song’s researchers followed 501,376 British people using data from the UK Biobank, a center for medical and genetic information. At the start of the study, the middle-aged volunteers were questioned about their physical activities, including how often they did housework and played sports.

Secondly, the participants were asked about the frequency with which they saw their loved ones and used electronic devices such as cell phones. During the 11-year study, 5,185 people developed dementia. In this way, the results showed that most physical and mental activities were related to a kind of protection against dementia. “These findings are encouraging, as there are simple lifestyle changes that can be beneficial,” Song closed.

Keep reading:

The New 60s: What Lifestyle Modifications to Embrace Healthy Longevity
Mental health: cases of depression and anxiety grew by 25% after the pandemic
What are the three most common mental illnesses?

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