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Study shows gardening makes better health bloom

If you think an ideal day is spent in the garden making sure that every beautiful bud is showing off its colors, then you're far from alone. One 2009 survey conducted by gardening blog Life On The Balcony found that 74 percent of baby boomers know at least 10 people their age who like to garden. Almost 50 percent have spent 20 or more hours in their garden and 42 percent are members of gardening organizations. 

Better yet, gardening has some real health benefits, particularly if you like growing your own fruits and vegetables. A recent study conducted by the University of Colorado revealed that community gardeners eat an average of 5.7 servings of fruits and veggies a day, compared to 4.6 servings for home gardeners and 3.9 servings for non-gardeners.

That means that more than half of Americans who choose to garden meet the national guidelines for servings of fruits and vegetables, compared to 25 percent of those who don't.

Community gardeners are also more physically active, which makes sense, since they're spending so much time tending to their sprouts. The study found that the group spends 720 minutes a week getting moderate-to-vigorous exercise, compared to the 570 minutes a week of non-gardeners.

Even more impressive, other research shows that eating four or more servings of green salad and spending time in the garden just once or twice each week can significantly reduce the rate of lung cancer in smokers and non-smokers alike.

"Salad is a marker for the consumption of many vegetables and gardening is an activity in which smokers and nonsmokers can participate," said lead author of the study Dr. Michele R. Forman.

If you're looking for a beautiful setting for gardening, making new friends and having new experiences, look no farther than Del Webb retirement communities such as Sun City Texas in Georgetown, Texas. Here, residents often come together in gardening clubs to share tips, tricks and work on community garden projects. And, at the end of the day, they can spend their time relaxing at the spa or enjoying a glass of wine with friends at Cafe on the Green, Sun City's restaurant and grill.  

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