For DC Park Rx: Health Benefits of Gardening and Being in Gardens


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Surgeon General leads walk through Meridian Hill Park for Park Rx Day

National Park Rx, a growing movement among doctors to prescribe parks and nature to their patients, launched recently and DC Gardens was asked to talk to the public about the benefits of gardening. Here’s the list we came up with:

  • Great exercise (with too many benefits to list, or to keep up with).
  • Improved immune system. (Hands in dirt – proven results.)
  • Reduced risk of dementia. (This one we’d never seen before Googling for benefits.)
  • Stress relief. (Oh, man.)
  • Improved mood. (Ditto.)
  • Connection with nature (The grand finale of benefits.)

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We could have added “creative outlet,” and there are probably more.

Our other mission was to encourage people to go to public gardens in the DC area, so what are the proven benefits of being IN a garden, not gardening itself? We re-used these from the gardening list:

  • Stress relief.
  • Improved mood.
  • Connection with nature.

And added this one:

  • Getting inspired to garden.

But again there are probably more.

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To illustrate the benefits of being IN a garden we used these photos of public gardens, from the top: the Regional Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden in mid-summer, Magnolia Garden at the National Arboretum, and Brookside Gardens.parks rx2

Park Rx to include gardens?

Yes, Dr. Robert Zarr, leader of DC’s Park Rx program, assured says that public gardens WILL be included on the program’s website and in other promotions. Though not a gardener himself, he was easily convinced that gardens and gardening are good for our health. We hope that’s true of the national program, as well.