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Gardening Proven to Improve Cancer and Mental Health Outcomes

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A randomised study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder on January 4 indicated that community gardening Proven to Improve Cancer and Mental Health Outcomes.

Gardening can improve mental health by reducing stress and anxiety and lowering cancer and chronic disease risk by boosting fibre intake and physical activity.

Everyone makes fresh resolutions for the next year. A job advancement, increasing physical activity, working out, or simply exposure to increased sunlight are all examples of this. Gardening is a well-known discovery that can help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions, according to a recent study.

In its first randomised, controlled experiment involving a gardening community, the American Cancer Society found that people who started gardening consumed more fibre and engaged in more physical activity. These two relationships lower the risk of developing cancer and other chronic illnesses. The study also discovered that increasing physical exercise and sun exposure reduced stress and anxiety.

According to Jill Litt, senior author and professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder, “these findings give tangible evidence that community gardening could play a significant role in reducing cancer, chronic diseases, and mental health disorders.”

Litt focused on researching methods to decrease health risks, prominently among low-income circles. She focuses on cost-effective and sustainable ways to help individuals, and gardening became a great source of physical activity and hobby. “No matter where you go, people say there’s just something about gardening that makes them feel better,” said Litt, who also works as a researcher with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

She went on to say that it is challenging to demonstrate the precise scientific justification for this, and that without solid evidence, it is challenging to gain support for new initiatives. A small amount of study has revealed that people who garden tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, which frequently results in healthier bodies and weight. It is hard to say whether healthy people garden more or whether gardening has health advantages. The randomised controlled trial—the gold standard of scientific research—was used in three prior investigations.

However, previous research didn’t specifically examine gardening. Litt called 291 non-gardeners in Denver, with an average age of 41, in order to concentrate on the gardening community. Over 50% of participants hailed from low-income families, and about one-third of participants were Hispanic. After last spring, half were assigned to a group that participated in communal gardening, and the other half were assigned to a control group that was instructed to wait a year before starting a garden.

The Denver Urban Gardens programme provided free gardening supplies, including seeds, an introductory gardening course, and a study partner to the initial group. Both groups were required to fill out surveys regarding their dietary habits and progress with regard to mental health, as well as to track their body measurements and wear activity trackers.

It was discovered that those in the gardening group were consuming 1.4 grammes more fibre on average during the fall season than those in the control group. This represented an increase of around 7%. According to the study’s authors, fibre has a big impact on our immune and inflammatory reactions, which helps our bodies metabolise better. This results in a healthy gut, which has a good impact on diabetes and some malignancies.

The average adult consumes less than 16 grammes of fibre daily, which is less than the 25 to 38 grammes recommended by medical authorities. According to co-author James Hebert, the director of the cancer prevention and control programme at the University of South Carolina, “an increase of one gramme of fibre can have enormous, favourable consequences on health.”

In addition to increasing their fibre intake, the gardening group increased their weekly physical activity by roughly 42 minutes. Public health organisations recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, but the typical American only gets to that amount of time for a quarter of the time. Participants exceeded the recommended amount of physical activity by 28 percent with just two or three trips to the garden. Your brain can benefit from exercise in addition to your muscles and bones. It can aid with weight management, sleep improvement, and many other chronic health concerns.

Participants reported feeling less stressed and anxious, which had a favourable impact on their mental health. The most worried and nervous participants experienced a considerable improvement in their mental health. Additionally, the study showed that even novice gardeners can reap health advantages during their first growing season and continue to do so as they gain more expertise.

The executive director of Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), Linda Appel Lipsius, said the findings weren’t particularly shocking. For a lot of people, it can even save their lives, according to Lipsius. DUG, a 43-year-old nonprofit, offers advice on community gardening to about 18,000 people each year. Even if you initially go to the garden with the intention of growing your own food privately and in peace, you soon begin to observe your neighbor’s plot and exchange tips and ideas, which helps to build relationships over time, according to Litt.

She went on to say that while gardening is beneficial, it may also have additional advantages when done in a group. Not just fruits and vegetables are important. It also involves spending time with others outside in a natural setting.

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