Living to 100 is certainly possible in today’s world, with so many advances in medicine and nutrition, but having a high life expectancy along with a greater healthspan takes more than just good genes and a bit of luck. Researchers have studied the world’s Blue Zones – where lifestyle habits have led these regions to have the highest proportion of people who reach 100.
According to Blue Zone longevity expert and author Dan Buettner, people who live the healthiest and longest in the world share 9 lifestyle and environment common denominators. The five regions studied by longevity researchers from National Geographic and Blue Zones include the Barbagia region of Sardinia, Ikaria, Greece, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, and Okinawa, Japan.
The lifestyle habits shared by the residents of these regions include:
- Moving naturally to tend gardens and care for their homes without mechanical conveniences.
- Having a sense of purpose – can add up to 7 years of extra life expectancy.
- Relieving stress with prayer, rest, meditation or a glass of wine at the end of the day.
- Stopping eating when 80 percent full, eating the smallest meal in the late afternoon or evening and stopping eating for the remainder of the day.
- Eating meat only rarely and consuming plenty of beans and lentils.
- With the exception of the Adventists, moderate alcohol consumption was common among all blue zones – but only 1-2 glasses of wine per day (preferably Sardinia Cannonau).
- Have a sense of belonging to a faith-based community.
- Putting family first and helping to care for aging parents, grandparents and young children.
- Having a tight-knit group of friends that support healthy behaviors.
As the month of January winds down, and perhaps not all the resolutions made at the beginning of the year have been kept, focusing rather on sustainable, enjoyable daily habits may be the healthier path to a longer, more engaged, and fulfilling older age. Walk instead of driving when you can, eat small portions and more veggies, cultivate a sense of purpose, spend time with people who engage in healthy habits, and manage stress with a daily practice you enjoy. For more tips and ideas for practicing the nine lifestyle habits of the longest-lived and healthiest people, follow bluezones on Instagram.