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Health & Parenting

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Playtime in the Garden

WebMD Feature from "Country Living" Magazine

By Madeleine Beckman

Country Living Magazine

If you want to ensure your kids are getting sufficient exercise, invite them into the garden with you!

If you want to ensure your kids are getting sufficient exercise, invite them into the garden with you! According to recent studies, gardening provides excellent exercise, builds self-esteem, and teaches lifelong skills. Gardening also teaches kids that life, unlike video games, does not always produce instantaneous results. Instead, with patience you can reap huge rewards. According to a report from Colorado State University, gardening together even helps strengthen family bonds.

Dr. Richard B. Parr, professor in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation at Central Michigan University, believes that gardening is a wonderful option for the whole family to get physical exercise. He says that time in the garden can be broken into several short time blocks throughout the day. It's not necessary to have marathon sessions of digging, planting, and weeding. And Mom and Dad, listen up: a study from Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands, has shown that people who engage in gardening for only a half-hour a day, five days a week, live about a year-and-a-half longer than those who are less active.

Kids Gardening

Project EverGreen, a nonprofit organization, strives to raise public awareness about the benefits of green spaces. To learn more about the environmental, physical, and psychological advantages of gardening and landscapes for children and adults, visit

Tips for Gardening with Kids

  • Keep dangerous chemicals out of reach
  • Wear gloves when digging in rocky ground
  • Grow interesting plants, like sunflowers, fuchsia, hibiscus, honeysuckle, violets, herbs, and green beans, on a trellis
  • Plant flowers that attract butterflies
  • Make sure kids wear protective clothing and use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
  • Drink plenty of water

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