Growing minds: evaluating the effects of gardening on quality of life and obesity in older adults



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Older adults represent a growing part of the population of the United States. Due to decreased physical activity, dietary changes, and alterations in metabolic rate this population is susceptible to an increased rate of diseases. The generation entering older adulthood is one which welcomed fast food and meal replacement foods allowing them to adapt to a more sedentary lifestyle and to need programs of preventative health. The Nutrition and Life Satisfaction Survey was used to investigate gardening as a preventative health intervention for older adults. This instrument was used to compare older (age 50+) gardeners and nongardeners on their perceptions of personal life satisfaction, nutrition, health, and gardening habits. The instrument was posted online at the Aggie Horticulture website in spring 2005. Respondents differentiated themselves as gardeners or nongardeners by responding positively or negatively to the question ?Do you garden?? Then, they completed the questionnaire about their quality of life andhealth status and, for gardeners, their gardening habits. Results indicated that gardeners had more desirable responses: Overall quality of life scores were higher for gardeners compared to nongardeners, and four individual quality of life statements yielded more positive answers by gardeners. Additionally, gardeners reported a higher consumption of total fruits and vegetables, including herbs, and of vegetables only including herbs. Personal reports of physical activity and of perceived health were higher among gardeners. Females were more likely than males to garden and spend a higher percentage of their budget on fruits and vegetables. Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and higher levels of physical activity result in healthier lifestyles and, in turn, can increase quality of life.