Gardening could be the hobby that helps you live to 100
One common hobby among the centenarians of the world is gardening. You could extend your life by taking up gardening.
You can also find out more about the D.
Dan Buettner studied five places in the world that are known for their long life: Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; and Sardinia, Italy.
These ” Blue Zones ” share specific characteristics – social networks, daily activity habits, and a plant-based diet are just a few. They also share an unexpected trait. Each community has people who garden well into their old age, even if they are in their 80s or 90s.
Can you live 100 years by nurturing your green thumb?
Gardening is a great way to achieve both. Buettner says gardening is a great way to get low-intensity exercise every day.
He claims that studies show that gardeners have a longer life expectancy and experience less stress. Numerous studies have confirmed this and pointed to the benefits of gardening on physical and mental health.
In a recent Dutch study, researchers asked participants if they could complete a stressful activity and divided them into two groups. The first group spent 30 minutes reading indoors, while the second gardened outside. The group who read said that their mood had “further degraded,” while the gardeners reported having lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Researchers in Australia studied men and women aged 60 years old. They found that those who gardened regularly had a 36 percent lower risk of developing dementia than their non-gardening peers.
Researchers in Australia studied men and women aged 60 years old. They found that those who gardened regularly had a lower risk of dementia.
Preliminary studies on older adults with cognitive disorders (such as Alzheimer’s and dementia) have shown the benefits of horticulture and garden settings. For example, sunlight and fresh air can help calm older adults who are agitated, while the colors and textures of different plants and vegetables improve visual and tactile abilities.
Science suggests that gardening can improve the quality of our lives as we age.
Let nature nurture you.
The social benefits of gardening are also a factor in increasing longevity. Dr. Bradley Willcox of the University of Hawaii studied centenarians in Okinawa. Okinawa has the highest ratio of 100-year-olds in the world, with approximately 50 centenarians per 100,000. Many residents continue to maintain their small gardens into old age.
He believes gardening can help with other important but more transient factors to increase longevity. In Okinawa, anyone who wants to live a long and healthy life needs an ikigai or a reason for living. “Gardening is that thing to wake up every morning for.”
Willcox explains that Okinawans value the concept of yuimaru or a strong sense of social connection. He says that bringing produce to a local market and sharing the latest creations of your garden are important social activities. “That helps people feel connected and grounded.”
Doctors can prescribe nature walks to reduce blood pressure, anxiety and improve happiness.
The connection between people and nature is also essential. Harvard University researchers found that those who lived in an environment with lush greenery had a longer life expectancy and a reduced risk of respiratory or cancer diseases.
Doctors in Scotland can now prescribe for a nature walk to treat various ailments. This includes reducing anxiety and blood pressure and improving overall happiness. Even a small plot of land in an urban setting can bring more nature into our lives.
Gardening can also help you with a healthy diet. Researchers found that the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains and legumes, fish, olive oil, and nuts, can help slow aging.
Willcox states that eating many fresh vegetables from the local market and gardens is essential to longevity. This is true whether or not the diet is Mediterranean. In Okinawa, for instance, many people grow bitter melon, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables in their gardens.
“Eating vegetables you have grown yourself changes everything. They taste better, and the health benefits (vitamins, minerals, phytoactive compounds, etc.) are improved. Willcox says that eating food grown by yourself has many benefits. It tastes better and is healthier (in terms of vitamins, minerals, phytoactive compounds, etc.). Buettner is an expert on “blue zones.” He recommends eating “90% plants” – especially beans and greens.
Are you interested in farming for a long life?
If gardening is good, is farming even better? Farmers also benefit from many lifestyle factors associated with longevity, such as exercising and living in the countryside.
Some evidence suggests farming to be one of the most healthy occupations. A study in Australia showed that farmers are 40% less likely than non-farmworkers to see a GP and a third more likely to suffer a chronic disease. Researchers in the US found that farmers were less likely than the general population to die of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Studies in Sweden and France also show that farmers are generally healthier than the general population.
Dr. Masahiko Gemma of Waseda University Tokyo studied self-employed Saitama farmers. He found they had a greater life expectancy than non-farmers who work later in life. Gemma describes many of his respondents’ responsibilities as “similar to maintaining a garden.”
Researchers in the US found that farmers are less likely than the general population to die of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
Gemma explains that the survey did not include large-scale corporate farms. He found that self-employed farmers’ psychological and physical health improved statistically significantly after they engaged in light farming. He says, “We think farming contributes to maintaining good health and spirit.”
Gemma’s findings may be encouraging, but not all farming is like the low-tech, traditional Japanese model he describes. In the West, agriculture is a significant industry. Farmers can face difficult or dangerous conditions at work, high debts, and increasingly automated processes.
Thomas Forester is a New York-based food policy consultant for research organizations and UN agencies. He says that the reality of agriculture in America is to sit in an air-conditioned combine, watching videos, while you drive across monotonous GPS-guided fields.
Then, it’s hard to see farming as the magic bullet that will prevent aging.
Growing vegetables or farming will only guarantee a short life. Some lifestyle factors, such as going outdoors, doing light exercise, and eating a plant-based diet, may help.
Balance is the key.
Willcox uses the analogy of an armchair. “Diet, exercise, mental engagement, and social connections are the four legs.” You can reduce your life expectancy if you do not have any of these four legs. It’s not about one factor but working less to achieve a constellation.
Please visit our Facebook page to comment on this article or any other story you’ve seen on BBC Capital or message us on Twitter.
Sign up for “If you only read six things this week,” – the weekly newsletter from bbc.com. You will receive a hand-picked selection from BBC Future, Culture, Capital, and Travel every Friday.