June 22nd, 2018

To Your Health: Study finds link between gardening and longer life

By Gillian Slade on February 26, 2018.

If you have already been buying seeds for your garden and are itching to get your hands in the soil, you are probably going to be healthier and live longer than others.

A Harvard study determined there is a link between gardeners and longer life expectancy. There are also negative health consequences for people living in high density urban environments.

The study found people living in a concrete urban environment had a 12-per- cent higher death rate than those with a garden to enjoy or who had easy access to green spaces.

People involved in the Harvard study are eager to see city planners recognize the benefits of incorporating green spaces and community gardens in designs. It would give residents a sense of solitude, allow them to watch and enjoy the changing of the seasons, and observe and marvel at birds and wildlife. The positive mental health benefits of this sort of environment are huge. It encourages people to go outside, reducing a sense of isolation, and lifts depression.

That makes the community garden project planned for the Veiner Centre a fantastic idea. There are also some seniors residences who make a point of involving residents in gardening of some sort and this should be applauded.

It is also one of the reasons for The Daffodil Project — there is improved emotional well-being from enjoying the sight of beautiful spring flowers like daffodils growing in our community.

It seems to have been, and in fact still is, a brutally long and cold winter. Even walking through a garden centre can lift your spirits at the moment. It makes me want to get going on planters and hanging baskets for spring, plan which plants I want this summer and different colour combinations. Even the process of mixing compost into the soil is therapeutic and creates positive feelings.

Think about the little spring bulbs, daffodils not withstanding, that have been “asleep” underground for months and will soon push their way up through the ground, make an appearance and bring us joy.

We are blessed to live in a city with an abundance of wildlife. Even observing them from a distance is fascinating. There are trails through the coulees that can transport you to a place where you would be hard pressed to even think you are in close proximity to a city.

At the moment, at dusk, Canada geese can give you moments of joy. Watch them flying back to the river for the night. The formations, how some choose to go it alone while others stay together in a flock, their incredible ability to fly high and come into land with incredible control. Such skill and precision is beautiful to observe.

Research has shown that people living in an urban environment have a higher chance of developing cancer and respiratory ailments.

Gardeners are inclined to be more physically active and are generally not exposed to the same level of air and noise pollution that their urban counterparts are.

Even if you are living in an apartment it is important to grow a few plants on your balcony or even a windowsill. You will be rewarded on a daily basis with their beauty.

Here’s to gardens, flowers, green spaces and wildlife and here’s To Your Health.

Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions, email her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or call her at 403-528-8635.

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