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Inspirational Story of the Week: Gardening Could Help Reduce Cancer Risk, Boost Mental Health, &...

Gardening could help reduce the risk of cancer, boost mental health and bring communities together, according to new research.

Scientists say it leads to eating more fibrous fruits and vegetables, exercising more and building social connections, which together can ease stress and anxiety and lower the risk of various illnesses.

“No matter where you go, people say there’s just something about gardening that makes them feel better,” said Dr. Jill Litt, a professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

In a classic case of correlation or causation, while it’s known that those who garden tend to be a healthier weight and eat more fruit and vegetables, it’s unclear whether healthier people just tend to garden more or whether gardening influences health.

To find the answer, Dr. Litt recruited 291 non-gardening adults with an average age of 41 from the Denver area.

Half were assigned to the community gardening group and the other half were put in a control group that was asked to wait one year to start gardening.

The gardening group received a free community garden plot, some seeds and seedlings, and an introductory gardening course.

Both groups were surveyed about their nutritional intake and mental health. They also underwent body measurements and wore activity monitors.