Gardening boosts physical, mental health while staying home

While people are urged to stay home to help contain the spread of COVID-19, many are turning to a popular hobby – gardening. Working in a garden can help build up physical and mental strength while passing the time and making the trips to the grocery store less frequent. Baylor College of Medicine experts share important information on gardening.

Gardening provides an abundance of health benefits for people of all ages, said Roberta Anding, registered dietitian and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor. People are likely to consume additional servings of fruits and vegetables grown in their own garden. It can also be a strengthening activity for elders, whether they are in strong physical shape or not.

“When we think of traditional nutrition, we think fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes or watermelon – but don’t discount herbs and spices. They’re plants too,” Anding said. “Basil, mint and rosemary all have protective compounds of phytochemicals or polyphenols that are very nutritious.”

Anding provides basic gardening tips and outlines the benefits to growing your own food:

  • The more diverse the colors, the more diverse are the protective plant-based compounds.
  • Because food is so fresh from the garden, people who are picky with fruits and vegetables may like the flavor of fresh grown fruits and vegetables more than produce from the grocery store.
  • Ugly does not mean there is a lack of nutritional value. Don’t discard “ugly” produce unless an insect or animal got into it or chewed it up.
  • Always wash your hands and your produce after digging around the garden, even if you don’t use traditional pesticides.

Studies show that people who grow their own fruits and vegetables have a healthier diet. Regardless of age, anyone can enjoy gardening indoors or outdoors.

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