GARDENING IS GOOD FOR YOU.

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Experts are beginning to look beyond the agricultural to the physical and mental benefits of gardening. Not only do gardeners tend to eat fresh vegetables throughout the growing season, but the physical acts involved increase fitness and combat depression.

Researchers found that raking a lawn or planting seeds take as much energy as casual bicycling, and shoveling soil burns up as much energy as swimming or aerobics. Physical therapists are prescribing gardening to extend the range of motion for people recovering from automobile accidents. In some nursing homes, the Eden Alternative movement is involving residents and staff in a gardening program that has resulted in a reduction in the use of drugs to treat depression, lower employee turnover, and bring about a drop in the death rate. Eden Alternative involves residents in gardening and caring for animals in an on-site pet therapy program designed to increase socialization.

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