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The Secret Health Benefits of Gardening

There are some gardening benefits that are obvious, like a beautiful yard, but there are also benefits that are more hidden. And the biggest secret benefit of gardening is how good it is for your health.

From preventing disease to managing stress to reducing air pollution, gardening is a great path to a healthier you. Read on for four of the biggest gardening health benefits.

Finding serenity in nature

1. Greater satisfaction and lower stress.

Gardening is restorative. Studies have shown that gardening helps people remove themselves from distractions, reduce negative emotions and rid themselves of stress.

It’s no wonder, then, that gardeners are very satisfied with life. A University of Texas and Texas A&M study surveyed 298 older adults on several measures of satisfaction, including optimism, fortitude and “zest for life,” and found that gardeners had greater satisfaction in every category than non-gardeners.

Working in the garden

2. Reduce risk of disease.

Gardening is a great low-impact form of exercise, which makes it one of the best activities for preventing or improving chronic health conditions. In addition to the general good benefits of exercise, gardening is particularly great for managing and preventing osteoporosis and diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas followed 3,310 older women and found that the gardeners in the group had lower rates of osteoporosis than joggers, swimmers and aerobicisers. What makes gardening so great for bone health? It’s likely because gardening is weight training in disguise—all that carrying bags of soil and lifting pots is great for maintaining bone density.

Gardening is also beneficial for mental health. In fact, it’s been found to be so good for reducing anxiety and stress that there’s a whole field of medicine devoted to harnessing the mental health benefits of gardening: horticultural therapy.

Healthy vegetables from garden

3. Healthier eats.

When you have a bunch of delicious veggies growing right outside your door, it’s easy to eat healthy. Studies show that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than people who don’t grow their own food.

4. Cleaner air for everyone.

Plants enrich our air with oxygen, which gives us healthier air to breathe—and you don’t need an area as big as Lincoln Park to make an impact on air quality. The U.S. Forest Service has calculated that a single tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control and recycles $37,500 worth of water.

Potting Parties at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show

You can experience many of these secret gardening health benefits at the 2014 Chicago Flower & Garden show, from learning healthy recipes in our Garden Gourmet cooking demonstrations to getting in some of that low-impact exercise in our hands-on workshops—not to mention the fun exercise from touring all the feature gardens! Tickets are already on sale, so save the date for a healthy, inspiring afternoon.

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