These nine commonalities may lead to a longer, healthier and happier life right where you are.
From the Grecian island of Ikaria where people “forget to die” to a sunny Californian community in Loma Linda, people are growing older – in “blue zones” where reaching 100 isn’t that unusual. Together, these groups of centenarians offer the rest of us nine insights into living longer, better lives. And chances are we will live longer. In 2000, 16.5% of Americans were over 60. By 2025, that number will be 25% and it’s growing, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab.
Only about 20% of how long we live is dictated by our genes. That means there’s a lot within our control – and the nine commonalities below may lead to a longer, healthier and happier life right where you are.
1. Put Family First
For many centenarians, aging parents and grandparents live nearby and children receive plenty of attention and love.
2. Have a Sense of Purpose
Having a reason to get up is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
3. Find the Right Tribe
One long-term study showed that health habits are “contagious.” The world’s longest-lived people are born into, or choose, social circles that support healthy behaviors.
4. Use Your Body
Set up your life to spur moderate physical activity, including house and yard work, walking and gardening.
5. Shed Stress
Use downtime to help ward off nearly every major age-related disease including Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
6. Eat Slowly
Give your brain time to get the message that you’re full. People in blue zones tend to eat their smallest and final meal in the late afternoon or early evening.
7. Choose a Diet with a “Plant Slant”
Centenarians eat plenty of vegetables and beans. Meat – mostly pork – is eaten just five times a month.
8. Sip Some Wine
People in most blue zones enjoy one to two glasses a day.
9. Belong and Connect
All but five of the 263 centenarians studied belonged to a faith-based community and attended services regularly, adding four to 14 years of life expectancy.
Sources: New York Times Magazine, bluezones.com, University of Sassari