Who would have thought that the simple act of gardening could help cut down the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases?
A new study published early this month in The Lancet Planetary Health reported the positive effects of community gardening in the adult population.
According to the team behind it, nature-based community interventions such as community gardening could alleviate modifiable risk factors of non-communicable and chronic diseases, including unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and social disconnection.
In the first-ever, randomized, controlled trial of community gardening, researchers found that those who engaged in the activity ate more fiber and got more physical exercise. Their stress levels and anxiety also significantly decreased.
For the study, the team screened 493 adults between Jan. 1, 2017, and June 15, 2019. Out of the figure, 291 completed baseline measures and were randomly assigned to two groups — intervention and control.
The intervention group was tasked to do community gardening right away with the help of an introductory gardening course through the Denver Urban Gardens program. On the other hand, the control group had to wait one year to start gardening.
All of the participants underwent wore activity monitors throughout the study. They also regularly underwent body measurements and took periodic surveys about their nutritional intake and mental health.
Upon analyzing data, the team reported that community gardening could provide a “nature-based solution” to improve well-being and alleviate the risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases in adults.
“These findings provide concrete evidence that community gardening could play an important role in preventing cancer, chronic diseases and mental health disorders,” senior author Jill Litt, a professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder, said, as per Medical Xpress.
“No matter where you go, people say there’s just something about gardening that makes them feel better,” added Litt, who is also a researcher with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
Litt hopes health professionals, policymakers and land planners will look into their findings and consider creating community gardens and other spaces that encourage more people to gather and enjoy nature together.