Learn from the Longest Living People How to Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier
The Blue Zones initiative began as a National Geographic expedition to explore the culture of longevity, but it became much more. By looking for commonalities in the lifestyles of the longest living people on the planet, researchers discovered what amounts to the recipe for a long life.
The full extent of that research is explored in The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner. In his book, Buettner lays out what he calls the Power 9 – a list of common denominators shared by the longest living people on the planet. Check out the Power 9 and learn how you can adopt them to live longer, happier, healthier.
Many centenarians live in an environment where they can engage in regular physical activity, which can be both physically and psychologically fulfilling. Work in the garden, volunteer, or just stay vigilant about cleaning your home. All it takes is a little imagination to stay active and engaged.
Researchers have found a sense of purpose increases your life expectancy by as much as seven years. Think about the things that are most important to you, and give yourself realistic personal goals to work towards.
Stress can affect the mind and body in many negative ways. A common thread among people who live longer is that they develop routines that help them shed stress. You can, too. Dedicate one hour each day to unwind. Take a walk, try yoga, listen to some music, or spend time meditating.
The 80% rule states that you should stop eating just before you become full. This staves off hunger without overeating. Digestion can be a serious strain on the body, especially if it results in extra weight. To make the 80% rule work for you, try having a light dinner in the early evening, or reduce your portions throughout the day.
Nearly all of the oldest people on the planet share the same dietary foundation: beans. Beans are an excellent source of protein, iron, soluble fiber, and more. Blue Zoners also consume very little meat, as few as a dozen small servings each month. Try adding beans in your diet and cut back on processed meats, which, according to The World Health Organization are nearly as carcinogenic as smoking cigarettes.
Wine at 5
Many Blue Zoners indulge in regular and moderate alcohol consumption – 1 to 2 glasses of wine each day. Wine contains a number of proven anti-aging compounds and aids in relaxation. Apply this one to your life mixed with food and friends.
Most centenarians are involved with a faith-based community. Researchers have found that regularly attending religious services each week can add more than a decade to your life expectancy. Try making a commitment to attend services every week. If you’re not religious, make a regular commitment another social group, provided it offers you a sense of community.
Loved Ones First
Many Blue Zone residents live either at home or near their married adult children and have young grandchildren to look after. Putting loved ones first can provide a great source of purpose and remind you of what’s important in life. If you want to live to 100, make extra time to spend with your loved ones.
The Right Tribe
Finally, it should come as no surprise that people who take part in social circles that support a healthy lifestyle tend to lead healthier lives. It’s important to find support for the life you want to lead. Surround yourself with people with good habits. It never hurts to try and make a new friend with healthy interests.