Even with high temperatures year-round in Florida, it’s not too late to get a
garden in the ground. Planting one with your kids can offer health benefits
beyond nutrition and provide some home-based 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
“Don’t let the heat stop you from the fun of a 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 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.”
“As a leader in the field of nutrition and obesity prevention, the American
Heart Association is passionate about educating and empowering
Americans to fight heart disease, including preventative measures such as
good nutrition,” said Jennifer Campbell, Executive Director from the
American Heart Association.
In addition to basil and herbs, Aman’s recommendation for heat-friendly
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, 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.
For more information on gardening at home with kids, visit heart.org/kids.