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Gardening may bring a harvest of health benefits
- By Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
- Reviewed by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
Want to increase your fiber intake, reduce stress, and get a little more physical activity? A randomized study published in the January 2023 issue of The Lancet Planetary Health found all of those benefits when participants grew their own produce. The trial involved about 300 people (average age 41) who wore activity monitors and took occasional surveys about their diet and health. None of them had kept a garden for at least two years. Half of the participants were given an introductory gardening course, seeds, and community garden plots to work in for one year. The other participants were told not to do any gardening for a year. Compared with non-gardeners, gardeners ate about two more grams of fiber each day (a 7% increase in their fiber intake), reported greater reductions in stress and anxiety, and did about six more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day (about 40 minutes per week). All of those changes are linked to better health, such as lower risks of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Image: © Steve Smith/Getty Images
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
About the Reviewer
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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