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School Gardens and Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Low income Elementary Schools

December 2014

Nancy M. Wells, Beth M. Myers, Charles R. Henderson Jr.


This study consists of a randomized controlled trial that assess the impact school gardens have on physical activity. Schools were randomly assigned to a control group, or a treatment group that received one 4 ft. by 8 ft. for each class, and access to a 20 lesson curriculum on gardening, horticulture, nutrition, as well as student activities including weeding, harvesting, and planting. Results show that students in the treatment group had significantly higher levels of physical activity, and a much lower prevalence of sedentary behavior.

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Policy Implications

School districts looking to increase the physical activity of students may be well-served by investing in a garden. Beyond horticulture-related knowledge, they may provide students with a higher level of physical activity.

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