In New York, School Gardens Boost Physical Activity Levels


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Researchers in New York say that having a school garden could boost physical activity levels by up to 10 minutes a day.

In a recent study conducted across twelve different elementary schools in five New York Regions, researchers from Cornell learned that students were up to four times more active when attending schools with gardens.

According to Nancy Wells, an environmental psychologist and the researcher who lead the two-year study, although kids were only spending one to two hours a week in the school’s garden, significant increases in physical activity were seen.

The initiative was part of the “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” People’s Garden School Pilot Project, which aims to introduce fruit and vegetable gardens to more than 4,000 kids in low-income schools throughout New York and across the country.

To capture a child’s level of activity, researchers used accelerometers and surveys for three consecutive days before and after gardens were installed in schools.  They learned that during in-door classroom time children were sitting 84% of the time, compared to only 15% during garden lessons.

Wells is also working with partners from three universities to learn about school gardens and their impact on a child’s health. The universities working with Wells include:

Support for this study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson’s Active Living Research program, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and Cornell’s David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

For more information about this initiative, read the full news story from the Cornell Chronicle.

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