Lifestyle is the Best Medicine: Uncover the Seeds of Longevity in Gardening

As many of you know, my fascination with longevity began when I was a child; it started when gerontology (the study of adult development and aging) was in its infancy. I’ve traveled far and wide, asking questions and paying attention to the practices associated with the world’s longest-lived, happiest people. Over the following months, I’ll be sharing more of what I’ve been learning so you can create your own Longevity Roadmap™ and become a longevity expert in your own right.

Spoiler alert: There is no secret elixir for a long, well-lived life. It is incumbent on each of us to learn, grow, and challenge ourselves to become our own wayfinders.

To this end, I’ve long admired Dan Buettner’s work identifying the Blue Zones. He’s pointed out beneficial and essential traditions like one of my favorites from Okinawa, where people follow the “Hara hachi bu” principle – setting an intention to eat until they are 80% full.

I’m also fascinated by the Finns with their reputation for being practical and stoic on the one hand, while also being amongst the happiest and longest-lived populations on the planet. Loma Linda, another Blue Zone, is distinct for its longer healthspans, partially attributable to its farmer’s markets and avid gardeners.

Why do the Finns and Blue Zones seem to have won the longevity lottery?

All of these hubs align with longevity principles. They have activated the ancient wisdom and modern science that proves Lifestyle IS Medicine. They understand how to develop and sustain life-giving daily habits. In the coming months, you’ll hear more about this to know which daily habits and meaningful connections should be a part of your Longevity Roadmap™, shedding those aspects that won’t serve your future self.

In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical 'therapy' to be vitally important for patients with chronic diseases: music and gardens.

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve written about my beloved garden before. It’s a source of beauty, sustenance and feels like the healthiest thing I can do for myself and others (I love to share!). So whether you are a gardener or not, adding this learning to your longevity repertoire is important.

So, why gardening?

Embodied Well-Being: Nature's Workout

Gardening offers a form of exercise that transcends the gym. It’s a symphony of movements that gently and profoundly engage the body. Research shows that gardening cultivates flexibility, dexterity, strength, and a sense of wholeness. By the way, in none of the Blue Zones do people pound away inside a gym!

Plant-Powered Eating: Your Pathway to Exuberant Health

Nature’s palette holds the key to vitality and longevity. So embrace the magic of a whole food, plant-based diet that’s like medicine (but better!) for your body. Eat the rainbow; each hue signifies a distinct nutrient profile that shields us from age-related health challenges.

Cultivate Calm: Harvest Your Resilience

From the tranquil gardens of Loma Linda to the wisdom of Costa Rica’s Blue Zone, there are insights into the art of resilience. Your garden isn’t just about growing plants—it’s about increasing your well-being. Nurturing a garden mirrors the nurturing of our inner landscapes. Just as a gardener cultivates a space for growth, gardening inoculates our minds and bodies against stress and burnout.

Blossom with Joy: Boost Your Happiness

Beneath gardening’s surface lies a reservoir of nutrients that yield effervescence and vitality. Beyond the bounty, gardening can give you a sense of purpose and joy. Observing and integrating with life’s cycles aligns us with the wholeness of nature’s rhythms. Connecting with the earth and its vibrancy and vitality will help guide you on your lifelong journey to authentic happiness.

Threads of Connection: Nourish Your Relationships

As life speeds forward, the threads of connection often fray. When families and communities unite in cultivating, harvesting or simply sharing healthful meals, they sow the seeds of meaningful connection. The bonds you will nourish will transcend time and the boundaries of age and circumstance.

From the wisdom and bounty of gardens, it becomes clear that lifestyle is medicine, and we can uncover the seeds of longevity—years lived in vitality, with depth and joy. Gardening serves as a metaphor for your life, urging you to tend to your growth. Beyond the physical act, it symbolizes a life rich in vitality, purpose, and interconnectedness—the elements that define your journey toward becoming your best for the longest time possible and for what matters most.

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