National Geographic researchers have explored five places (all within the “Blue Zone”) where people live measurably longer lives: communities in Sardinia, Costa Rica, Greece, Japan, and southern California. When I heard about this I was reminded of a book I read this year – “A Year In The Village Of Eternity” where the residents live unusually long healthy lives, and this post about a group of Italian immigrants who lived well into old age despite (not because of) their diets. Oh the Italians…
What’s the common denominator for these people? A strong sense of community. “But what about diet and exercise” you say? Yep it is important to maintain strong healthy bones and muscles and eat a variety of healthy foods however according to these researchers a positive social and physical environment is more closely correlated with longevity than diet or exercise. Here are nine powerful yet simple lessons that could give the average American another 12 quality years of life.
1. Keep moving. Find ways to move naturally, such as walking and gardening. This doesn’t need to feel like “exercise”. You get a huge mental and physical benefit from a leisurely after dinner stroll.
2. Find purpose…and pursue it with passion. Are you retired? Find somewhere to volunteer. Were you into art in college? Take a painting class. When you are at the office create laser like focus on the task at hand so you can….
3. Slow down. Work less, rest, and take vacations. I shoot for three trips to a warm place each winter. What is our vacation goal for this year?
4. Stop eating...when you’re 80 percent full. You want to feel full but not stuffed. I have been experimenting with leaving a bit of food on my plate at each meal.
5. Dine on plants. Eat more veggies and less meat and processed foods. Could you try one new vegetable this week?
6. Drink red wine. Do it consistently but in moderation. Your heart will benefit from one glass of wine a day.
7. Join a group. Are you a knitter, does reading help you relax? Create a healthy social network via your hobbies, or athletic endeavors.
8. Feed your soul. Engage in spiritual activities. Church, Temple, The Columbia Gorge, Beacon Rock, what is your holy ground? Go there often and soak up good energy.
9. Love your tribe. Make family a high priority. Call your Mother.