Life is a garden. Dig it.

07/10/2012

Gardening is a labor of love. Many a morning I wake up with sore and aching muscles after toiling away in the dirt the day before. Then there are the days when I am white-hot angry because a chipmunk or squirrel wreaked havoc on my poor garden. And I can’t even begin to tell you how worried I’ve been during this recent heat wave, and the joy I’ve felt when rain finally came. As emotional as gardening can be, nothing compares to enjoying a meal made entirely from ingredients from the garden. I get equally giddy when the same garden provides herbs I’ve come to rely on for hair and skin care recipes. These are reasons enough to keep my green thumbs active, but I just recently learned that gardeners actually live longer.

A recent post at Wellness Mama referenced a TED Talk in which National Geographic writer and explorer, Dan Buettner speaks about “Blue Zones,” communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. Buettner and his team studied these communities, and shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.

  1. Just Move. Blue Zone communities don’t work out in the gym. Instead, daily activity like walking to the market or to visit a friend provides daily exercise.
  2. Purpose Now. The Okinawans call it “ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida.” This roughly translates as “why I wake up in the morning.” Know your life’s purpose.
  3. Down Shift. People in the Blue Zones have stress, but they also have routines to reduce it like praying, napping and happy hour (yes, happy hour).
  4. 80% Rule: Stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full. Duh.
  5. Plant Slant. Another duh. Eat a plant-based diet. If you must be a carnivore (like me), eat the finest meat you can afford and limit meat intake to twice a week.
  6. Wine @ 5. Moderate ( 1 to 2 drinks a day) drinkers outlive non-drinkers. Sardinian Cannonau wine is apparently the best wine for longevity.
  7. Belong. Doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, whatever. Belong to some kind of faith-based community.
  8. Loved Ones First. Work on being in a positive, committed relationship, invest in your children, and keep your aging parents and grandparents nearby or in your home.
  9. Right Tribe. Okinawans refer to this as ”moais”–groups of five friends that are committed to each other for life.  Surround yourself with friends who share your interests and values.

Buettner also mentions that nearly everyone in Blue Zone communities garden. Gardening adds years to your life by providing light to moderate physical activity, stress reduction, and of course good healthy veggies and fruits. Woot-woot! You can check out Buttner’s TED below, or his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest for more on The Power 9.

Having read all of this, from hence forward, I shall enjoy at least 2 glasses of red wine at the end of a long day of gardening. Cheers!

Do you practice any of The Power 9? Are you a gardener?