Healing through gardening: Program for cancer survivors studies positive effects of gardening

Health News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A doctor at UNM’s Comprehensive Cancer Center is bringing a new gardening study to New Mexico. It’s part of a bigger mission to improve the lives of cancer survivors.

From start to finish, more than 25 cancer survivors will soon be digging into the world of vegetable gardening. “The cancer survivors will, with their master gardener partner, plan, plant, and harvest three seasonal gardens throughout the year. So, a spring garden, a summer garden, and then a fall/winter garden,” said Dr. Cindy Blair.

Dr. Cindy Blair, an epidemiologist at UNMH is studying the positive effects gardening could have on cancer survivors. “The goal is to see how this program affects diet, specifically fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity, physical functioning and quality of life,” said Dr. Blair.

Vegetable gardening can promote a healthy lifestyle for many reasons. “Being able to grow your own produce and know that you’re using fresh fruits and vegetables, not only for yourself but for your family and it’s also a sense of connecting with nature,” said Dr. Blair.

Each cancer survivor will be paired with a master gardener from New Mexico State and the Albuquerque Extension Master Gardener Program. They will lend their expertise to the novice gardener, making the experience more successful.

Dr. Blair says not only is the experience a learning process that will get the survivors up and moving, but she says gardening can also be relaxing and peaceful practice. The study first started in Alabama and there’s already a waiting list for enrollment.

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