When we were growing up every member of the family had a garden. Some of us had more than one. They weren’t tiny flower beds. Some were about the size of a football field. It didn’t occur to us that helping in the garden was good for us, but it was.
Exercise: A 70 pound child can burn between 95 and 127 calories gardening for one hour. It is considered a cardio workout as well, so doing this at least three days a week is a healthy amount of exercise.
Muscle Groups: Working in a garden can employ many muscle groups. Weeding requires fine motor skills as does many types of harvesting. Kids that are old enough to use a hoe or hand tiller use larger muscle groups.
Fresh Air: Only one of the family gardens was in a town. In fact, three of them were well outside of city limits, including the farm we lived on. We were outside in the fresh air. After living in a suburb for more than thirty years I can tell you there is a big difference.
Better Food: There is something wonderful about eating something for dinner that had been on the plant when we got up. Some of it is the higher nutritional value fresh foods have over those that have been sitting around for ages. Some of it is that fresh foods retain their flavor better. Sweet corn is put into boiling water as fast as possible after picking because it keeps more of the plant sugar.
There are times when I really wish we could grow enough of a garden to provide fresh food at least during the growing seasons. I miss the flavors and the companionship of working together to grow our own food.