The American Heart Association suggests gardening as a fun way to boost mental health and physical activity along with nutrition
DALLAS, June 4, 2020 – Even with temperatures rising across the country, it’s not too late to get a summer garden in the ground. Planting one with your kids can offer health benefits beyond nutrition and provide some home-based summer fun.
As kids dig, mulch, trim, water, and remove those pesky weeds, they may relieve some stress and anxiety linked to social distancing and cancelled activities which can result in mental health fluctuations according to the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all. Adding activities to the routine that get kids active and outdoors can offer mental health benefits through physical activity.
“Don’t let the heat stop you from the fun of a summer garden,” said Kim Aman volunteer gardening advisor for the American Heart Association’s Teaching Garden Network, a school-based garden program teaching students about nutrition and food access through real-life hands-on garden laboratories. “In the hot summer months pay extra attention to water, measuring by touch. Organic amendments of fish emulsion, worm castings, or dried molasses are helpful to provide nutrients. Mulching the top of the soil helps to keep the soil cool and retain moisture.”
In addition to basil and herbs, Aman’s recommendation for heat-friendly summer planting include:
5. Sweet potatoes
7. Summer squash
“Creating a home garden is an activity to get the entire family involved while increasing physical activity to improve mental health and reduce anxiety and depression,” said Larry D. Mitnaul, Jr., M.D., MPH, MS, American Heart Association volunteer medical expert and child, adolescent, & adult psychiatrist at Ascension Via Christi. “Now, in the third or fourth month at home, away from friends and school, a child’s mental health can become increasingly delicate.”
According to the CDC, childhood obesity accelerates during the summer while children are out of school. Children who experience high stress levels are at increased risk for being overweight, having disrupted sleep or smoking – all of which can lead to serious health problems. Stress hormones can lead to inflammation, which raises the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Since schools have been closed since March, childhood obesity numbers are anticipated to trend at higher than normal rates. Providing activities that prioritize physical and mental health is a way to help children grow to their full potential.