Community gardening involves key components of a long, healthy life

By analyzing so-call Blue Zones, a book reveals nine components of longer, healthier lives. Three of those components are intrinsic to community gardening.

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From People Who Lived the Longest is a book by Dan Buettner that that builds off of demographic research that identified  four areas of the world - Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; the Nicoyan peninsula in Costa Rica and Loma Linda, Calif. -  where people reach age 100 at rates significantly higher, and on average, live longer, healthier lives than most Americans.

Buttner’s book analyzes the lifestyles of these regions and revealed nine common components to all these populations, and three of them are intrinsic to community gardening—moving naturally, a plant-based diet, and being socially active with the right tribe that shares your healthy values. 

Working in a garden requires frequent, low-intensity, full range-of-motion activity, and corresponds to the theme of moving naturally as part of a daily routine.  Gardening is also a nurturing act that increases beauty and gives you access to fresh produce, which brings us to the second healthy lifestyle theme, a plant-based diet.  Putting effort into growing fruits and vegetables often creates a natural motivation to eat them, and eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is not only recommended by a National Geographic study of the Blue Zones, but also by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Michigan State University Extension.

Community gardening has a quality that is unique to all other types of gardening – it has a social component.  People active in a community garden often share similar values about eating healthy and being active outside and in their neighborhood.  While gardening is usually a solitary act, there are almost always other people around in a community garden and there is always plenty in common to talk about – good food and the joy of growing it.

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