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Published on May 13, 2014

Go Play in the Yard

May 13, 2014

child playing in the dirtGardening is an enjoyable family activity that can also spark a passion for healthy living in youngsters. Studies suggest children are more likely to try fruits and vegetables when they’re involved in growing and harvesting them.

“Gardening strengthens a child’s knowledge of and respect for the environment,” says Beckie Frieders, certified health education specialist and preventive health educator at Valley West Hospital. “It increases understanding of where food comes from.”

Experts also link gardening with improving a child’s self-esteem, attitude toward learning, and sense of what can be accomplished.

How can you get a child to trade the TV remote for a trowel? Start small. Ask your little one to decorate a pot for planting cherry tomatoes and then dig holes for the seedlings. When you create the opportunity, interest may grow along with the plants themselves.

Good for Grown-Ups

Gardening brings a bevy of benefits for adults, too.

Exercise. The intensity of work in a garden depends on the size of the plot and the activities you choose to do. “Hoeing or raking works your leg, arm, and shoulders,” Frieders says. “Most gardening tasks elevate the heart rate and improve flexibility.” Thirty to 45 minutes of gardening burns 150 calories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nutrition. It does get much better than growing your own food, health-wise and taste-wise.

Relaxation and Stimulation. What better way to slow down, get creative, invigorate your mind, and reduce stress than to plan and tend a garden? “Everyone wants to live a healthy life,” says Frieders. “Gardening helps us do that in all facets.”

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