How to live to be 100: color your thumb GREEN

The “blue zones”, where people live the longest: Okinawa, Japan – Nicoya, Costa Rica – Icaria, Greece – Loma Linda, California and Sardinia, Italy have 4 things in common:

  1. Lots of social support
  2. Daily exercise
  3. A plant based diet
  4. People who garden into their 80’s and 90’s!

So is there a reason people with “green thumbs” live longer?

Gardening is a popular hobby, and something the world’s oldest living people have in common. “. . . the analogy of a chair: diet, physical activity, mental engagement and social connection are the four legs. If you’re missing a chair leg  you fall out of balance, and it can shorten life expectancy. Longevity isn’t about one single factor . . . “*Maybe you should take it up (if you haven’t already).

Keep your mood up

Being outdoors lifts your mood and moderate exercise is correlated with a longer life. Gardening gives you both . . . continually.   It doesn’t matter if you plant flowers, vegetables or hedges.  All gardens need tending, so people who garden get all the benefits of exercise and sunshine regularly.

There is evidence that gardeners live longer and are less stressed and studies show both physical and mental health benefits from gardening:

  • In a Dutch study, people who read for half an hour after having experienced a stressful task reported their mood had gotten worse, while those who gardened instead of reading, “not only had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol afterwards, they also felt “fully restored” to a good mood.”
  • Australian researchers found that people in their 60s who regularly gardened had a 36% lower risk of dementia than their non-gardening counterparts. Even people with cognitive issues benefit. Fresh air and sunshine have a calming effect.
  • In Okinawa, which has the highest ratio of people over 100, Dr Bradley Willcox of the University of Hawaii says it is believed there that  “anybody who grows old healthfully needs an ikigai, or reason for living. Gardening gives you that something to get up for every day.” Residents also value a lot of social interaction, such as sharing what you have grown at the local market.
  • People who are surrounded by lush greenery live longer, according to a Harvard University study. When you garden, you create greenery all around you. Even a small garden lets you be in touch with nature.

There’s a simple truth: gardeners are more likely to plant what they want to eat.

You are likely to eat more vegetables and fruit, which are a big part of the kind of diet that is associated with longevity.  And you know exactly what pesticides, if any, you have sprayed onto the food.

If you’re ready for a job change . . .

There’s evidence that farming is one of the healthiest careers.  Farmers:

  • have fewer chronic illnesses (by a third)
  • are less likely to see a doctor
  • are less likely to die of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes than the population as a whole.
  • work later into life
  • live longer

No land?  Buy container pots!

or move to Okinawa, Japan – Nicoya, Costa Rica – Icaria, Greece – Loma Linda, California or Sardinia, Italy


*Dr Bradley Willcox of the University of Hawaii studies

Did you know: Sitting most of the day may lead to an early grave?

 Ai yi yiiiiii.  We spent the majority of our lives as “professional sitter-downers”.  As psychotherapists the only thing we were really concerned about was being sued, stalked or otherwise putting our licenses in jeopardy. Little did we know sitting and listening to people might have led to our early demise.

“Adults who are inactive much of the day may be more likely to die prematurely than people who don’t sit around a lot, regardless of their exercise habits, a U.S. study suggests.”

(Reuters Health)

People may also be less likely to die young if they break up sedentary time by moving around every half hour than if they remain seated for longer stretches of time without getting up, the study also suggests.

For the study, researchers examined data on 7,985 adults, age 45 and older, who were asked to wear accelerometers to measure activity levels for one week.

“We think these findings suggest that it is simply not enough to be active or move at just one specific time of the day, that is, exercise,” said lead author Keith Diaz of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

“We need to be mindful of moving frequently throughout the day in addition to exercising,” Diaz said.

“Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time also exceeded 12.5 hours per day,” noted Alter. “Conversely, in those whose daily sedentary volumes were low, uninterrupted bout lengths had little if any associated effects on mortality.”

“It’s possible that prolonged sedentary stretches might hasten death by causing what’s known as metabolic toxicity, said Dr. David Alter, head of cardiovascular and metabolic research for the University Health Network-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in Canada.”

“The lack of activity in our muscles affects our ability to metabolize our sugars efficiently,” Alter, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email. “Over time, our body accumulates excess fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and death.”

From now on this blog will be written, illustrated and edited in a standing position . . . the good news is that we didn’t die young.



Women – The Secret Ingredient to Living Long & Well

Stanford University:  “The lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between 
stress and disease. The speaker (head  of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among
 other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his 
health is to be married to a woman whereas for a  woman, one of the 
best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her 

Meowie & Friends by Peggy

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

“Women connect with each other differently and  provide support
 systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult  life
 experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to
 create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can 
create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas
men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a
 buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal
lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf?
 Yes.  But their feelings? Rarely.”

“Women do it all of the time sharing from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and
evidently that is very good for our health.  He said that spending time with a friend is just
 as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.”

“There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we  are
 doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with 
friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively
 engaged—not true.” 

The Health Factor – Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker – it’s that serious.

Interesting Research findings:

  • Longevity – Married men live longer than single men, yet women who marry have the same life expectancy as those who don’t. However, women with strong female social ties (girlfriends) live longer than those without them.
  • Stress – For decades, stress tests focused solely on male participants, believing that all humans would respond in the same manner. When these same stress tests were finally conducted on females it was discovered that women don’t have the same, classic ‘fight or flight’ response to stress that men do. According to the research presented in The Tending Instinct, women under stress have the need to ‘tend and befriend.’ We want to tend to our young and be with our friends. Time with our friends actually reduces our stress levels.
  • More Stress – A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found that when we’re with our girlfriends, our bodies emit the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, helping us reduce everyday stress. By prioritizing our female friendships and spending time with these friends, we take advantage of a very simple, natural way to reduce our stress.
  • Self-esteem – A recent study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. It’s no surprise that our self-esteem is highly influenced by our girlfriends; this is important to understand for girls as well as women.






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