The Connection Between Gardening and Your Health

Posted by Hilary Young on October 11, 2013

The Connection Between Gardening and Your Health

Calling all green thumbs! A new study being performed by researchers at the University of Wyoming found that people who spend time in a garden live healthier lives. The fourteen volunteers for the study all suffered from significant medical issues, including diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and heart disease.

The researchers looked at people across socioeconomic groups and age groups from two locations--Laramie and Wind River Indian Reservation, where diabetes is so prevalent that the average age of death is 59. The research team created gardens in each participant’s backyard and taught them how to grow their own vegetables. The study is tracking blood pressure, blood glucose and cortisol levels in the saliva to determine the amount of stress in each participant. At the beginning, this medical data for each participant was recorded and at the end of the gardening season the participants will be tested again to see if they have, in fact, gotten healthier.

In the meantime, participants involved in the study seem to be feeling better.

Jason Nichols and his mother Tera, are both participating in the study as they both have many health issues. Since the study began, both Jason and Tera have reported eating more fruits and vegetables and getting more exercise on a daily basis by tending to the garden.

“Well, I myself have a lot of, you know, chronic conditions, nothing acute. Osteoarthritis which has gotten really bad up here. Heart condition, diabetes and asthma. Not the least to say is anxiety disorder and depression,” said Tera Nichols. “But I managed to keep off four pounds...my blood sugar has stabilized for the first time in a long, long time. So that’s what it’s done for me.”

Lead researcher, Dr. Christine Porter, an Assistant Professor of Health at University of Wyoming, said this about the study “Our goal here is ultimately to do a randomized control trial so you can be sure that the benefits that are being attributed to gardens are true. And can prove those benefits, which include not only access to food, increased fruits and vegetable consumption, but increased activity, lowered stress, increased social networks. Even with home gardens, interestingly.”

How many of you tend to your own gardens at home? Would you agree that it makes you healthier? [caption id="attachment_755" align="alignnone" width="300"] Carol uses a Medical Guardian medical alert system while working in her garden[/caption]  


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