I recall a conversation I had with neighbors when we all landed at our mailboxes at the same time. As we were talking, we watched another neighbor mow his lawn, and my neighbor to the left said, "Oh dear ... we should pitch in and get Mr. So-and-So a gardening service."
As a gardener myself, my reply was something like, "Are you kidding? Mowing the lawn every week is the best thing for him."
Mr. So-and-So was 92 at the time and not only mowed and watered his lawn, but pruned his trees and planted new plants. He is still the source of my best tomatoes.
As it turns out, gardening can help you live up to 14 years longer, according to National Geographic writer Dan Buettner, author of the New York Times best-selling book "The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest." Blue Zones are the longevity hot spots of the world.
Veggie-rich diets, eating less and purposeful activities were a common thread. None of the centenarians did strenuous gym exercises or took supplements or pills.
"Many Americans exercise too hard," Buettner said in an interview. "The life expectancy of our species for 99.9 percent of human history was about 30 years. The fact that medicine has pushed life expectancy to age 78 doesn't mean our bodies were designed for three-quarters of a century of pounding.
"The world's longest-lived people tend to do regular, low-intensity physical activity like walking with friends and gardening."