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Older gardeners reap healthy benefits

Nov. 24, 2010 at 2:20 AM

WAGENINGEN, Netherlands, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- A Dutch researcher says gardeners of all ages reap healthy rewards' besides produce, it improves health and well-being in the elderly.

Agnes van den Berg of Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands says allotments -- small plots of land given to community residents to garden fruits and vegetables for personal consumption and recreation -- improve health by adding an extra day of physical activity to a gardener's week during peak gardening times.

Van den Berg conducted a survey, published in Environmental Health, that indicates those age 60 and older with the gardens perceive their health, stress levels and visits to the doctor significantly improved versus those without a garden.

"Around the world, allotment gardens are increasingly under pressure from building and infrastructure developments," van den Berg says in a statement. "Considering that allotments may play a vital role in developing active and healthy lifestyles, governments and local authorities might do well to protect and enhance them."

Van den Berg and colleagues polled 121 gardeners and 63 of their neighbors who did not have allotments.

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