Health leaders urge local residents to reap the health benefits of gardening

As the autumn chill sets in, it’s tempting to hibernate indoors and wrap up warm but local health leaders are encouraging residents, where possible, to get into their gardens at this beautiful time of year.

Recent research sets out the strength of evidence for the benefits of gardening and food growing for physical and mental health and wellbeing. It shows that gardening can:

  • Increase overall levels of physical activity and fitness, burn more calories and hence contribute to healthy weight management and reducing the risk of obesity
  • Increase healthy fruit and vegetable consumption, for adults that grow food, and among schoolchildren participating in food-growing activities at school – as well as improving young people’s attitudes to healthy eating
  • Reduce physical pain, and help with rehabilitation or recovery from surgery or other medical interventions
  • Help people cope with physically challenging circumstances, such as intensive cancer treatment or learning how to live with chronic conditions such as asthma or severe allergies

In addition to the physical benefits, gardening is also shown to improve mental health. Dr Sunil Gupta, mental health clinical lead for NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG said:

“I’d encourage local residents to get into their gardens and make the most of the beautiful autumnal sunshine. Aside from encouraging you to exercise and relax, gardening offers a natural solution to the issues of depression, anxiety and low moods. If you do not have access to a garden but would like to enjoy the health benefits that gardening can bring, you can speak to your local authorities about allotments or speak to local charities such as Trust Links about opportunities to get involved in community projects.”

10 useful gardening jobs this month, courtesy of RHS:

1. Clear up fallen autumn leaves regularly
2. Cut back perennials that have died down
3. Divide herbaceous perennials and rhubarb crowns
4. Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into the greenhouse
5. Plant out spring cabbages
6. Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts
7. Prune climbing roses
8. Order seeds for next year
9. Last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas
10. Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf

The local, independent charity, Trust Links, offers therapeutic gardening and other services to help people through difficult times and find a path to recovery. It is committed to enabling people to work together to improve their mental health and well-being. Its members benefit from learning new skills, engaging with others experiencing similar issues and leaving their worries behind them as they work outdoors and connect with nature.

Matt King, Trust Links CEO said "The Growing Together gardens are central to the work of Trust Links. Members and volunteers enjoy working together in the gardens and find them a relaxing space and gardening a therapeutic and calming process. It can help you take your mind off things that may be troubling you and gain hope for the future. Growing Together has helped transform many people's lives by building confidence, gaining new skills and helping them move forward with their lives."

The charity has three sites in Westcliff, Shoebury and the newest in Thundersley. Volunteers are always welcome to work with members in the gardens. Anyone with no garden space of their own, or some time on their hands and who wants to gain from the physical and mental benefits of gardening, can get in touch with Trust Links by calling 01702 213134.

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