Gardening Can Help You Live Longer and Happier
Okinawa, Japan has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians — people who live to over one hundred years old — in the world. After studying this population, researchers found that, along with following a predominately plant-based diet and maintaining a strong sense of purpose and community, one of the most important factors that contributed to their longevity was… gardening.
But can gardening really be the one of the secrets to a long, healthy, happy life?
For aging and older populations, gardening provides a critical source of daily physical activity, so much so that the American Heart Association categorizes it as a good source of moderate exercise. Squatting, bending, pulling, watering, weeding, digging, and mowing can help keep the muscles and joints active and engaged, while helping improve strength and dexterity. A study from the University of Arkansas found that the low-impact movements associated with gardening helped women aged 50 and older improve their bone density and reduce their risk of osteoporosis.
And while gardening is far from an aerobic workout, it can help burn calories and lower body mass. Research from the University of Utah showed that people who participated in community gardening had lower odds of being overweight or obese. You can even make gardening more of a workout by increasing your range of motion or incorporating some anywhere-exercises like the lunge and weed or the planter’s squat into your planting routine.
In addition to physical health, gardening can be a source of immense joy and inner peace. Caring for and looking after plants gives us a sense of responsibility and satisfaction — as well as a time outdoors under the sun — while also connecting us to other living things and our food. This Monday, move it into the garden. Start small with a few potted plants, flowers, or herbs and get growing!