Anyone who knows me knows I don’t exactly have a green thumb.
In fact, if I’m being completely honest I have to admit I typically end up killing anything but the hardiest of living green things when I try to grow them. But the results of one survey has me thinking 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. So they designed a survey based on a tool called the Life Satisfaction Inventory A to find out.
The survey was designed to measure five different things that scientists look for when trying to figure out a person’s quality of life:
- “zest for life”
- “resolution and fortitude”
- “congruence between desired and achieved goals”
- “physical, psychological, and social self-concept”
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 survey respondents.
Gardening linked to more energy and happiness
It turns out gardening may be the missing fountain of youth. When they crunched the numbers, the researchers found significant differences between those folks who maintained a garden and those who didn’t. More than 85 percent 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 percent of non-gardeners agreed.
But even more significant were the differences in energy levels that were reported by the gardeners as compared with their non-gardening peers. When asked whether they agreed with the statement “I feel old and somewhat tired,” 70.9 percent of the gardeners gave a resounding “no,” while only 57.3 percent 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.
75% of gardeners rate their health highly
In the end, an impressive 75 percent 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.
I’m still a few years away from reaching the 65+ category, and I’ll admit my urban lifestyle isn’t the most garden friendly environment. But it’s clear that the time and effort needed to create a small garden would more than pay me back in health and satisfaction.
Plus growing my own organic veggies this summer will pay me back in the wallet as well. Care to join me in starting an anti-aging garden this summer?
“Growing Minds: Evaluating the Effect of Gardening on Quality of Life and Physical Activity Level of Older Adults,” HortTechnology, 2010; 20: 705-71