I spent a day planting trees last week. It was an uplifting experience with a HUGE number of healthy ageing benefits. In fact, I think it could be top of the charts for age-well activities – see below!
I volunteered at the Woodland Trust’s First World War Centenary Woods at Langley Grove, Surrey. Each tiny sapling was carefully planted by hand, then tucked into a protective tube and firmly staked. It was surprisingly hard work, but wonderfully energising to be out in the fresh air and open countryside knowing that the trees we planted will still be standing in 100, 200, 300 years’ time: a fitting tribute to the men who fought for our freedom.
Six ways tree-planting helped me age well:
STRESS-RELIEF: spending time among trees has been found to reduce feelings of anger and depression, as well as lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol can damage the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, leading to cognitive decline. More on this here
IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOST: Crucial at this time of year. Even a 30-minute walk in the woods can strengthen immunity. A study in Japan found that forest visits had a long-lasting influence on immune system markers. You can read more about it here
GUT BUILDING: getting down and dirty in the soil does wonders for our microbiome, exposing us to beneficial bacteria which builds our own internal gardens. And recent research suggests that microbes found in forest soil act as natural anti-depressants.
EXERCISE: an obvious one, of course. Walking to the wood itself and the physical work out afforded by planting was great exercise. There was lots of bending and stretching, and digging trenches to plant the saplings was a great way to firm up those pesky triceps and avoid bingo wings!
A SENSE OF PURPOSE: volunteering, and ‘giving back’ has been shown to reduce rates of cancer, heart disease and depression. It’s also a great way to meet new people and learn new things. I’m no gardener so had to learn a lot about trees in a short time!
TACKLING POLLUTION: the more trees there are in the world, the less pollution there is. Poor air quality is responsible for over 6 million premature deaths a year, making it the fourth deadliest health risk after smoking, poor diet and high blood pressure. More here
Do share this post with the gardeners in your life, so they know how beneficial it is!
WHAT: I’m giving a talk about keeping well in the run up to Christmas, and the importance of a strong immune system as we age.
WHEN: Saturday December 8th1400 – 1800
WHERE: the Health Bloggers Community Christmas Market for Health & Wellness Lovers, This Time Next Year, 80 Ruckholt Road, London E10 5FA
THE DISCOUNT: the usual price is £10 (+ booking fee) but I’m able to offer our lovely followers a 20% discount, using the code HBCxLP.
Here’s the link to book tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hbc-christmas-market-for-health-wellness-lovers-tickets-51072734925
There will be lots of delicious, healthy foods to test and a great goodie bag to take home.
Please do come and support me – it’s the first time I’ve spoken in public about The Age-Well Project. I’m super-excited and rather nervous!
photo: Andreas Krappweis