The Dirty Truth: Gardening is a Top Longevity Activity
Are your fingers crusted with mud? Clothes soiled? Neck red? Socks pierced by thorns?
Bravo! You’re in excellent health!
Gardening - the grubby, ancient, grueling labor of peasants - is revealed as a fantastic life-expanding activity by a meta-analysis of 21 studies conducted in the USA, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Humans in their 50’s that fussed with veggies and flowers just 3 hours per week - weeding, seeding, raking, squashing bugs and snails - lived two years longer than sedentary counterparts.
Wannabe a centenarian? Gardeners that cultivate 20-40 hours per week are widely represented in ’Blue Zones’ like rural Sardinia, Okinawa, and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.
You can also find old gardeners on youtube, like 106 year old Vern Isenhower, in Kansas.
Below are mental & physical benefits:
Blooming with Happiness
An Iranian study of female students indicates gardening serves as “horticultural therapy.” Gardening also alleviates in “brooding” and “existential issues” in Norway; lessens tension, anger, fatigue, and confusion in Japan; improves sociability, well-being, and hopefulness in South Korea; reduces loneliness in The Netherlands; elevates self-esteem in the United Kingdom; and upgrades “life satisfaction” in the USA. Dutch scientists found 30 minutes of gardening provided more positivity than 30 minutes of reading, and a Rutgers University study found “flowers have an immediate impact on happiness” and “a long-term positive effect on moods.”
An Italian 2014 study suggests daylight gained in the garden increased intake of Vitamin D, increasing calcium levels, benefitting the bones and immune system.
Researchers examining 2,800 people ages 60+ concluded gardening (and any other physical exercise) refuses the incidence of dementia by 36 per cent.
Fight the Usual Ailments
Gardening, claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is an activity that can lower the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer.
Steering a heavy wheelbarrow, pickaxing clay, shoveling holes for tree-planting, and pulling tenacious vines out of shrubbery… gardening chores tone our muscles, improve our stamina, dexterity and limberness, and increase our hand grip strength.
Yanking (for example) a fat, reluctant carrot out of the ground, wiping it semi-clean with a sweaty handkerchief, and gobbling it down like a ravenous goat - provides excellent organic nutrition, especially if you add in some nearby fresh-picked rosemary and oregano. Less hastily, you can haul garlic, tomatoes, and zucchini into the kitchen for proper preparation. Gardeners eat more vegetables than people who have to shop for plant food - this reduces their expenses and improves their health.
Great for the Gut
Studies indicate gardening exposes us to a multiplicity of “good bacteria”, increasing our intestinal flora and strengthening our immune system. Possibly not as effective as a “fecal implant” but certainly less invasive.
Improves Human Interaction
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touts the sociable benefits of community gardens as a “fun way to engage with others” especially on projects that contribute to the neighborhood. Caring for plants also boosts empathy, and it helps emotional and behavioral management.
The “hygiene hypothesis” claims children who enjoy prolonged exposure to dirt have a lower incidence of asthma, eczema, psoriasis, and allergies later in life, compared to kids whose parents keep them ’squeaky clean.’
We Get Grounded
The book Earthing:The Most Important Health Discovery Ever - written by a trio of scientists and physicians - claims contact with soil reduces the buildup of harmful electrons in our bodies from electromagnetic frequencies, wifi and electrical outlets. “Grounding” ourselves in gardening can help prevent inflammation and disease caused by the overload of electrical charge.