I don’t exactly have a green thumb.
OK…if I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit that I tend to kill anything but the hardiest of living green things when I try to grow them. But the results of a new survey have me thinking that I should really consider giving gardening another try.
Researchers from Texas A&M and Texas State universities wanted to find out if gardening contributes to the quality-of-life and physical-activity levels of older adults. They designed a survey based on a tool called the Life Satisfaction Inventory A.
The survey was designed to measure five different things that scientists look for when determining a person’s quality of life: “zest for life,” “resolution and fortitude,” “congruence between desired and achieved goals,” “physical, psychological, and social self concept,” and “optimism.”
In addition, the Texas researchers asked a series of multiple-choice questions to determine the physical activity, perception of health and well-being, and demographic information for all the respondents.
When they crunched the numbers, the researchers found significant differences between those responders who maintained a garden and those who didn’t. More than 85% of gardeners agreed with the statement “I have made plans for things I’ll be doing a month or a year from now” while only 68% of non-gardeners agreed.
Even more significant were the differences in energy levels that were reported by the gardeners as compared with their non-gardening counterparts. When asked whether they agreed with the statement “I feel old and somewhat tired,” 70.9% of the gardeners gave a resounding “no” while only 57.3% of the non-gardeners disagreed with the statement.
As anyone who has gardened can tell you, it’s quite an active hobby. There’s a whole lot of standing, stooping, digging, and carrying to be done when tending a garden, and apparently Newton’s first law of motion that states that things in motion tend to stay in motion comes into play here. It turns out that more than three times as many non-gardeners as gardeners considered themselves to be “quite inactive” while, in contrast, almost twice as many gardeners labeled themselves “very active” as compared with the non-gardeners.
In the end, an impressive 75% of the gardeners who participated in the survey rated their own health as “very good” or “excellent.” This perception, combined with eating more fruits and vegetables and their higher physical activity levels, means that gardeners are the hands-down winners in their age group when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a high quality of life.
While it’s true that I’m still quite a few years away from reaching the 65+ category…and that my urban lifestyle is not exactly gardening friendly…it’s also clear to me that the time and effort I would need to put into creating a small garden would more than pay me back in health and satisfaction.
And now that I think about it, considering the costs involved in going organic, it would pay me back in the wallet as well.
“Growing Minds: Evaluating the Effect of Gardening on Quality of Life and Physical Activity Level of Older Adults,” HortTechnology, 2010; 20: 705-71
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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