Live to 100: Gardening for Wellness

Last year, the BBC launched a series called the Generation Project to examine “life’s biggest milestones for baby boomers, Gen X and millennials.” Along with topics on spending, retirement, and housing was an article on “The Hobby that Helps you Live to 100.” According to the piece, gardening was a commonality among people around the globe who lived the longest lives.  

One of the greatest takeaways from the BBC’s findings is that even though gardening might not directly lead to a long life, the hobby promotes all four of the key factors that encourage longevity.

Health Benefits of Gardening

1. Diet

2. Physical Activity

3. Mental Engagement

4. Social Connection

  • Diet. According to Cornell University’s Garden-Based Learning from its College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, gardening increases nutritional awareness and interest in a healthy diet among all age groups. Especially among middle school-aged students, school gardening dramatically affects vegetable consumption and attitude towards vegetables. This is simple enough: it is fun to eat the food we care for! The Cornell studies found that growing vegetables lead to students choosing healthier snacks on their own. In fact, the sample of community gardeners had 56% meeting national recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, compared with 37% of home gardeners and 25% of non-gardeners

  • Physical activity. Gardening means getting out into the sunlight and fresh air, which not only encourages calmness and mental health, but keeps people exercising their visual and tactile abilities. Well into old age, gardening is a low-intensity activity that encourages routine work and an active lifestyle.

  • Mental Engagement. Mental engagement is stimulated in gardeners both young and old. The Cornell studies found that elementary school age students who participated in school gardening scored significantly higher on science achievement tests than their counterparts who did not have garden activities. Gardening also aids children with learning disabilities, enhancing their nonverbal communication, attention to order, and participation in relationships. For men and women in their 60s, gardening regularly lowers the risk of dementia by 36%, according to Australian researchers.

  • Social Connection. Perhaps most unique of all is the power of gardening to bring together communities. Chicago public housing developments actually found that simply having more trees and grass lead to residents of buildings socializing with their neighbors more often. A survey of community gardens in upstate NY also showed that “gardens in low-income neighborhoods were four times as likely as non low-income gardens to lead to other issues in the neighborhood being addressed; reportedly due to organizing facilitated through the community gardens.” Gardens encourage social connected-ness and a collective goal.

To add gardening into your life is to tap into the benefits in each of these categories and build an active long life. If you are interested in incorporating more plants into your life, sign up for our blogs for additional tips!

GardenStreets provides interior plantscaping, plant care and consultation services to commercial and residential clients. Our mission is to bring Nature closer to people through the philosophy of 'Right Plant, Right Place'.