While there are many hobbies which do your soul and emotional health good, gardening stands out from the crowd. Although gardening has not gotten the attention it deserves, it is one of the healthiest activities to take on.
Able to extend longevity, reduce stress and give you a purpose, gardening has become a leading activity recommended to many people looking to do something productive and fulfilling.
To showcase gardening in all its glory, let’s meet some of the nations who benefit the most of this hobby. Expert Dan Buettner has spent some time analyzing the lifestyle of pro-gardening communities, such as Okinawa- Japan, Nicoya- Costa Rica, Icaria- Greece, Loma Linda- California, and Sardinia- Italy.
These locations fall under the ‘blue zone’ areas. What this means is that all of these places have developed social networks, healthy daily habits, beneficial and plant-based nutrition, and more. But, one common factor to all these blue areas is longevity.
Did you know that residents in these areas live up to 80 or 90 years old?
Gardening says you’re welcome.
How does gardening improve your health?
It boosts your mood
Being outdoors is super beneficial to your health, and when combined with physical activity, it’s that more recommended. Luckily, gardening covers both aspects, which will then help you produce a healthy daily routine.
A Dutch study has recently showed that gardening for only 30 minutes a day is able to reduce the stress levels and cortisol in the body.
An Australian study, however, indicates that gardeners also showed a 36-percent lower risk of suffering dementia and memory problems.
Other valuable studies in the field (especially in seniors) show that gardening can suppress the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, stress, and vision.
Nature, the best healer of them all!
Aside from being beneficial as a physical activity, gardening also extends the longevity. As per Dr. Bradley Willcox of the University of Hawaii, Okinawa has one of the longest living residents in the world. And yes, it is all due to their regular gardening practices.
Willcox also notice that in Okinawa, people practice yuimaru, a concept of high social connection and grounding.
Because of that and more, medical doctors in Scotland are now allowed to prescribe nature as a form of healing. Gardening included.
In addition to these studies, a Harvard study explained that people who live among greenery live longer, safe from cancer and respiratory ailments. And finally, gardening is not a de-stressor alone.
In fact, gardening also contributes to better nutrition, which focuses on veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. As a matter of fact, this type of ‘Mediterranean dieting’ is what contributes to a greater longevity in the first place.
For instance, in Okinawa, people prefer to eat bitter melons and sweet potatoes. Growing your own vegetables is a guaranteed way to eat clean, healthy and get the required nutrients your body needs.
In the blue zones, thereafter, people keep their diet mainly plant-based, with almost 90-percent of the food being greens, beans, and nuts.
Gardening vs. Farming
How different are the benefits of gardening vs. those of farming? Research in the area explains that farming is just as healthy as gardening, if not more. Australian farmers, as per studies, suffer less risks of chronic illnesses and steer velar of GMO foods.
With that, farming helps them stay clear of cancer and heart issues, as well as diabetes. In Europe, the same farming practices are most popular in Italy and France.
Dr. Masahiko Gemma from the Waseda University in Tokyo analyzed the life of farmers in Saitama and focused on their longevity and what triggers it.
What he found was that farming in these areas is “similar to the work of maintaining a garden”. The inclusion and participation of all family members in the farming business has helped the community sustain the test of time.
Unfortunately, although natural farming is a super beneficial practice, modern-day processes have threatened the practice for good. Contemporary farming has become quite processed and automatic, that the perks of farming as we know it do not exist in the West.
Unfortunately, with the disappearance of traditional farming, many Westerners are losing the battle against aging, cancer and cardiovascular problems. Of course, it is a stretch to say that farming and gardening are essential against aging.
But, while there is no guarantee, farming and gardening can contribute to a higher quality of life, and that’s a given. And if those are not practiced enough, then perhaps eating right and focusing on a plant-based diet may just do the trick.
Balance it Out
Dr. Wilcox states that to find the ideal balance, it is best to use the analogy of a chair. Think of the chair’s legs and how each of them represents a factor to consider.
These include dieting, mental engagement, social connection, and physical activity. Missing only one of these aspects can put you at risk of losing balance, which could, later on, manifest in stress and shorter lifespan.
Of course, you can balance these out by planning your time right and truly devoting your efforts to what makes your body and mind grow healthier.
What are the Benefits of Gardening and Farming?
No matter which activity you decide to take on, both gardening and farming can deliver loads of benefits to your everyday life. Aside from extending the longevity and keeping you nutritionally happy, gardening and farming can also:
- Help you grow a greater self-esteem (this is where the social skills come into the picture).
- Protect your heart from a variety of issues, such as heart failure, cardiac arrest, and blockages.
- Reduce stress and anxiety by giving you a purpose.
- Ground you with nature and fill your body with necessary energy-stimulating ions.
- Introduce a better sleep quality.
- Strengthen the performance of your hands, by actively working.
- Keep your entire family healthy, through proper nutrition and participation in the process.
- Gain you profits, by selling the products you have grown.
Gardening and farming make a fun, healthy and recommended activity to engage in. If you plan on spending more time on this earth – join the many who have found countless benefits in these activities!