For the past 20 years, I’ve traveled the world over to study the five Blue Zones — areas by which people live exceptionally long lives: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece and Loma Linda, California.
Based on my interviews with 263 people ages 100 or older, I’ve found that the world’s longevity champions conduct themselves based on what I call the “Power 9.”
Listed here are their non-negotiable rules for a protracted and comfortable life:
The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. As an alternative, they live in environments that continuously nudge them into moving.
They grow gardens and haven’t got mechanical conveniences for house and yard work. Every trip to work, to a friend’s house, or to church starts with a joyful walk.
The Okinawans in Japan call it “ikigai,” and the Nicoyans in Costa Rica call it “plan de vida.” Each translate to “why I get up within the morning.”
Residents in every Blue Zone I visited had something to live for beyond just work. Research even shows that knowing your sense of purpose can add as much as seven years to your life.
But they’ve routines that shed stress: Okinawans take just a few moments every day to recollect their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap, and Sardinians have comfortable hour.
“Hara hachi bu” — the two,500-year-old Confucian mantra that Okinawans say before meals — reminds people to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full.
People within the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal within the late afternoon or early evening, they usually don’t eat any more the remainder of the day.
Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most Blue Zones diets. Meat is eaten a mean of only five times monthly, and in a serving of three to 4 ounces, which is concerning the size of a deck of cards.
People in Blue Zones, even some Adventists, drink alcohol moderately and repeatedly. Moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers.
The trick is to drink one to 2 glasses per day with friends and/or with food. And no, you possibly can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
All but five of the 263 centenarians I talked to belonged to a faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t appear to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services 4 times monthly can add 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.
Centenarians within the Blue Zones keep aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the house, which studies show can lower the disease and mortality rates of their children.
They commit to a life partner (this will add up to 3 years of life expectancy), they usually give their children loads of time and love (this makes the youngsters more prone to be caretakers when the time comes).
The world’s longest-lived people select (or were born into) social circles that support healthy behaviors.
Okinawans create “moais” — groups of 5 friends that commit to one another for all times. Research shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. Against this, the social networks of long lived people favorably shape their health behaviors.
In fact, following these rules won’t guarantee that you’re going to make it to 100 years old, but you may stand a superb opportunity of adding more comfortable years to your life.
Dan Buettner is an explorer, longevity researcher, National Geographic Fellow, and award-winning journalist and producer. He can also be the creator of the best-selling books “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” and “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Just like the World’s Healthiest People.” Follow Dan on Instagram @danbuettner.
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