Nonagenarians and centenarians living in the Blue Zones all have several things in common, including their shared hobby. According to Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, these folks all enjoy gardening, the healthy longevity hobby.
Gardening gets you out in nature and moving. It is an antidote to stress – both relaxing and enjoyable. You can do it solo or as a social activity with others. It allows you to create beauty and food. You can garden in pots on your patio, a corner of your yard, or take over the back 40 if you’re so inclined. And you don’t have to be a master gardener or even have a green thumb to enjoy the benefits or reap the rewards.
Also, if you are struggling with finding purpose, as the Japanese have found, tending your garden will give you “ikigai,” or a reason to get up in the morning.
Need some science to back all this up? Researchers in Australia studied men and women in their 60s and found that those who gardened regularly had a 36% lower risk of dementia than their non-gardening counterparts.
Dutch researchers gave a group a stressful task, then split the group in two. Half the group read for thirty minutes while the other group gardened. The readers experienced a continued deterioration of their mood while the gardeners reported being in a good mood and showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Studies in Sweden and France showed that farmers are healthier than non-farmers while a U.S. study showed that farmers are less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, or diabetes than non-farmers.
First, Best Step
While gardening alone won’t guarantee a long and healthy life, it’s a great tool for healthy longevity, and a wonderful hobby! Considering taking up gardening? Before you get your hands dirty, schedule an appointment with a 100 Year Lifestyle provider near you. Keeping your spine and nervous system healthy is always the first, best step before taking on any new activity, and a key component of living at 100% for 100 years or more!
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