Reap what you sow. It's time to grab a shovel, some potting soil, and get those hands dirty to dig the way to longevity.

Gardening provides not only bonding time with Mother Earth but also all-natural ways to a longer, healthier lifestyle.

The popular springtime hobby gets a green thumb of approval from healthcare professional and registered nurse Sheryl M. Ness who said, "Having a garden in your life can be restoring. It gives you something to care for, celebrate, and later on, gives back by producing flowers, fruits, or vegetables to nourish your body and your soul."

In a survey conducted by the National Gardening Association, Americans were asked to give their main reasons for growing gardens. 58 percent of people said desired better-tasting food, 54 percent wanted to save money on food bills, 51 percent wanted better-quality food, and 48 percent wanted to grow food that they know is safe.


Individuals who cultivate gardens often fill them with fruits and vegetables and are known to eat more of these nutritious delights than their friends.

Community gardeners have an upper hand on good nutrition compared to home gardeners and non-gardeners. According to a study in Denver, published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that 56 percent of community gardeners met the national recommendations of fruits and vegetables consumption compared to 37 percent of home gardeners and 25 percent of nongardeners.

Children can also benefit from the exposure of a garden at a young age because they can develop nutritional and environmental awareness, which promotes community-building skills. School gardening plays a role in vegetable consumption and overall outlook on vegetables for kids. In a study, a group of 99 sixth-grade students in three different elementary schools were part of a control group and two treatment groups. Students in the treatment groups participated in a 12-week nutrition education program, with one treatment group also participating in garden-based activities. Results showed that students who partook in the garden-based nutrition intervention increased their servings of fruits and vegetables than the students in the two other groups. Increases in vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber intake were also examined.

Mental Health

Healing gardens have been associated with better mental health for those who suffer from conditions like aggression, anxiety, dementia, depression, insomnia, and stress. The all-natural alternative to use flowers instead of drugs to treat such conditions is recommended by Richard Zeisel, president of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care in Lexington, Mass. Zeisel believes that gardening is an integral part of the patients' living facilities in his company because it has allowed them to function with a lesser need of antipsychotic drugs.

The demand of physical and mental activity in gardening can lower the risk of developing dementia. 2,040 participants who lived at home in Gironde, France were randomly selected and followed for at least three years by French researchers in a study. The results of this study suggested that regular participation in social or leisure activities such as gardening lowers the risk of consecutive dementia by 95 percent. Even an individual that has dementia or Alzheimer's can reap the therapeutic benefits that gardens have to offer.

The aesthetic stimulation of a garden and its scents and sounds can also be a source of meditation for those who suffer from aggression, anxiety, and stress.

Gardening has aided people with depression symptoms because the active participation allows them to get out of their fixed mental state. In a Norwegian study, 18 clinically depressed adults took part in a 12-week therapeutic horticulture program where they grew flowers and vegetables. The results showed that the decline in depression severity was positively correlated with how invested the participants were in the garden.

Horticulture therapy has also been used to combat poor sleeping habits. Stress and sleep are closely associated because with stress, no sleep usually follows. The International Society for Horticultural Science (AHTA) interviewed 42 people both with cancer and without cancer. Interviewees from both groups resorted to gardening as a means to deal with stressful life situations which resulted in better sleep.


Tasks like digging, planting, and wedding are all forms of exercise that can help those who suffer from chronic pain. The weight-lifting activities in gardening can also combat conditions like osteoporosis, sometimes more effectively than jjogging, swimming, and aerobics. Researchers at the University of Arkansas did a study on 3,310 on women who were 50 and older and who partook in all of the activities listed above and found higher bone density in women who did yard work.

"There are a lot of factors that contribute to osteoporosis," said Lori Turner, a registered dietician and researcher from the study. "But the more we know, the more we can encourage women to maintain healthy lifestyles and the more power we can give them to prevent this disease."