Environment

urban garden, city garden, urban vegetable garden

Urban Garden Trend May Help City Dwellers Live Longer

July 27, 2009 06:30 PM
by Haley A. Lovett
As the recession continues and urban gardening gains popularity among the masses, one study finds that gardening may be the key to a long life.

Gardening Improves Overall Health, Longevity

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In 2005, Dan Buettner, working on a story for National Geographic Magazine, began traveling the globe in search of long lived populations—now called “Blue Zones.” He was looking for the secret to long life. Since his initial research, he has continued to study the habits of those living to be 100 years old and has found that there are many commonalities.

In a blog post for his Web site Blue Zones, Buettner simplifies some of the lifestyle changes that can contribute to longer life; he says these strategies may increase lifespan by about 14 years. Most of the methods involve changes to your everyday life, including more natural movement and eating less food. Gardening, Buettner contends, is also an important element in staying young and living longer. Growing a garden is a “proven stress reducer [that] will put your body through the range of motion and yield fresh vegetables,” Buettner writes on his site.

Background: Gardening, beekeeping come to the city

Urban gardening groups around the country have seen a rise in popularity of the hobby. The need for low-cost, fresh food, the popularity of all things “green” and the increase in vacant city space due to the recession have been cited as contributing factors for the growth of urban gardening.

But as Natalie McDonald of Newsweek points out, urban gardens are not just a new fad. People have been planting gardens in the city since the world wars. McDonald points to organizations in major metropolitan areas such as Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere as leading the movement of urban gardening today. There has even been a movement of “guerrilla gardening”: taking over unclaimed plots of city land.

Some major cities have also seen a rise in the number of urban beekeepers. New York is reconsidering its law making the practice illegal. Urban beekeeping has the added benefit of helping to pollinate urban farms and gardens, and the practice could help to slow the decline of the bee population.

Related Topic: Eat less to live longer

Buettner isn’t the only one to find that eating less can extend lifespan. Scientists at the University of Madison-Wisconsin discovered that monkeys fed a restricted calorie diet lived longer.
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