You've heard it before: gardening is good for you!
Gardening is a relaxing and rewarding hobby. You get some sun, spend time outside, tend to your plants, and grow seasonal foods or flowers.
It's a great way to increase physical activity, get some sunshine, and connect with others while enriching the environment. But new research shows the health benefits of getting your hands in the dirt go way beyond a good night's sleep or a clear complexion.
People with access to community gardens experience multiple health-promoting benefits, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder.
In an article published in the January 6th edition of The Lancet Planetary Health, lead author Jill Litt and researchers share that participating in community gardening can provide a nature-based solution accessible to a diverse population.
These shared gardens often serve as places for beautification and renewal, community engagement, and enhancement of well-being.
In a randomized controlled trial, researchers at CU Boulder found that community gardening can provide a nature-based solution for people to improve their diet and physical activity, as well as crucial behavioral risk factors for non-communicable and chronic diseases.
Community gardens are community-based, grassroots projects that bring together groups of community members to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
The participants were split into two groups: half were asked to wait one year to start community gardening. The other half were invited to a community gardening group.
Study partner Denver Urban Gardens gave study participants a community garden plot and a gardening course on how to grow food and seedlings and seeds to get their new gardens going. Participants in the study experienced lowered stress and anxiety levels later that fall, with participants who expressed the most stress and anxiety seeing the greatest improvement.
The study is the first known randomized controlled trial investigating the benefit of gardening, particularly community gardening.
"These findings provide concrete evidence that community gardening could play an important role in preventing cancer, chronic diseases, and mental health disorders," said professor Jill Litt from the Department of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder.