A healthy lifestyle is often achieved through an excellent diet and a certain amount of physical activity, and nothing combines these two things better than gardening! Gardening has long been associated with a variety of benefits: It teaches you about food, it is a rewarding physical activity, it has been shown to positively affect mental health, and it is often a social activity, something fun to do with family and friends or to meet fellow gardeners.
The Gardens at CHOP — including the Sea Garden at the Seashore House, the Karabots Health and Wellness Garden, the Treetop Terrace at the Buerger Center, the Barbara Brodsky Healing Garden, and the gardens on the Raymond G. Perelman Campus — are open and available to all of our patients and their families. With this in mind, let’s explore the many health benefits to gardening!
Gardening is an excellent way to learn about food
What better way to learn about food than going to its source? Planting seeds, caring for plants as they grow and bloom, harvesting sun-ripened tomatoes right off the vine — these help new gardeners understand the resources it takes to grow food, as well as some of the unseen labor that goes into bringing fruits and vegetables to one’s dining room table. Additionally, studies have found that when kids grow fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to eat those fruits and vegetables, thereby adding nutritious variety to their diet.
There are significant health advantages to gardening
In addition to its positive impact on diet and knowledge of food, gardening has been shown to help gardeners in many important and unique ways. For example, the organization REAL School Gardens has found that having a garden that students can tend while in school increases engagement and test scores. They also conducted evaluations that showed a link in decreased teacher turnover. Additionally, scientists have conducted a meta-analysis that shows the impact of gardening on mental health, which includes:
- A reduction in depression and anxiety
- An increase in life satisfaction and quality of life
- An enhanced sense of community
Furthermore, gardening is mild physical activity, helping gardeners get their heart rates up while they reap gardening’s many other benefits. Plus, working out in the sun is a nice way to soak up some much-needed vitamin D.
Finally, gardening has been shown to increase one’s cognitive health while also decreasing the levels of cortisol — a hormone related to increased levels of stress.
The Gardens at CHOP
The Gardens at CHOP are unique and vital resources that aim to:
- Help patients heal and rehabilitate
- Inspire, educate and entertain patients, families and staff
- Bring the outdoors to children who must spend a lot of time inside
- Build community among patients, families and staff
- Encourage healthful nutrition and activity
- Encourage environmental stewardship
- Have the potential to grow to other areas of the hospital
- Be places of nurturing for children sick and well; just as children have different needs, the gardens host different plants: natives, edibles and eye-pleasing shrubs and flowers.
- Be places where patients and families can be invigorated and also find peace; the gardens are colorful, fragrant, living extension of our mission, helping children with different challenges bloom and grow to the best of their abilities.
Contact us to find out more and start your gardening journey today!
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