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Good Growing

Health Benefits of Gardening

This morning I was working with a group of kids and helping them learn how to garden. We planted tomatoes, peppers, acorn squash, and sunflower seeds. When I was showing them how to plant, one of the things I told them was "the greatest thing about gardening is that you can get dirty and no one can get mad at you." There is something satisfying about digging in the dirt and putting in plants or seeds.

Beyond the pure satisfaction of gardening there are other benefits. Gardening is known to have multiple health benefits. According to the CDC, spending 2.5 hours each week working in the garden is considered moderate physical activity. This can help to reduce the chance of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, and colon or breast cancer. If spending time in the garden is considered exercise who can argue? They also say that physical activity for those that suffer from arthritis can improve mood, reduce pain, and improve quality of life. Getting out and working in the garden is beneficial for those recovering from injury or illness as gardening can help improve range of motion, improve hand-eye coordination, and improve motor skills. On top of that, gardening can promote self-esteem and reduce stress.

Other health benefits of vegetable gardening also include an increase in eating healthy vegetables. I know that for me I will eat tomatoes nonstop during the summer once they are ripe as they are tastier then those you can get from the store during the middle of winter or during the off season. Being able to access what you want when you need it is beneficial. Having my own vegetable garden allows me to try new things each year – new varieties or vegetables I haven't tried before. Growing your own vegetables also allows you to control what you use for insect and disease control.

Maybe you don't have space dedicated to only vegetables consider incorporating them into the landscape. There is a rise in the idea of edible landscapes – incorporating vegetables and herbs into the landscape that can serve dual purpose. You add not only to the aesthetic value of the garden but get fresh produce or herbs for use in the kitchen. I tried this last year with extra habanero pepper plants in the front landscape and it added interest to the garden with all the beautiful bright orange peppers. If you aren't into vegetable gardening and just like aesthetic gardening, the same health benefits still apply of course except for increasing your consumption of fresh vegetables.

Whether you grow vegetables, herbs, or flowers – take the time to get outdoors, play in the dirt, and enjoy the sunshine and benefit from exercise while doing something you love.