Live Past 100 : Lessons From The World’s Healthiest People

 In Healthy Living

Live Past 100: Lessons From The World’s Healthiest People

From the legend of the Fountain of Youth to cryogenics, people have been searching for ways to continue their life far beyond the norms.

Most of us can look at our family tree and see how long each of those branches grew, or have some idea of the longevity and general health of our relatives. It may be a bonus when we have healthy relatives, but that doesn’t mean that we can relax and ride that wave of good genes. We have to be committed to keeping ourselves in good shape both physically and mentally.

Time goes way too fast and we need to stay on top of what will keep us feeling great well into our senior years. I don’t know about you, but I hope to be out there dancing at my grandkids’ weddings.

Genetics or Lifestyle?
I’ve done a lot of reading about how much genetics affects our ability to live healthy for a long-time. One of the most eye-opening things I’ve learned is that lifespan has been found to be about 25% genetically-influenced and 75% dependent on our lifestyle.

We can’t just sit back and believe that our great-grandparents’ longevity is the absolute indicator of our future health. We need to take an active role in shaping our own senior years.

Blue Zones
I’ve recently learned about the “blue zones”. These are areas in certain parts of the world where people have the characteristic of living well into their 90s and even 100th birthdays. How amazing would that be to live well into our senior years smiling and still enjoying being active outdoors?

One of the experts on these blue zones is Dan Buettner. An American researcher, explorer, author, athlete and public speaker, Dan has accomplished some amazing things. The work that made him famous was his National Geographic cover story in November 2005. Titled “The Secrets of Longevity.”

According to Buettner’s work, Nicoya, Costa Rica is home to the people who are known to have the Western hemisphere’s longest average lifespan. Additional blue zones that he focused on were Ikaria (Greece), the island of Sardinia, Loma Linda (California, U.S.A.), and Okinawa (Japan). Dan researched not only location, but also the day-to-day habits of the people who kept healthy and lived well past their 90th birthday. As a contrast – the average global life expectancy at birth is approximately 71 years.

If you already live in these regions, that’s great! If not, below are some tips to help you live past 100.

Key Habits
As I mentioned, genetics does play a role in longevity, but lifestyle has the biggest impact. All of the research into these blue zones provides nine key lifestyle habits that can add healthy years on to your life. Dan calls these the Power 9.

  • Move – Continual movement, not necessarily frequent marathons or power workouts.
  • Have purpose – I think this along the line of doing what you love and making an impact.
  • De-stress – Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to age-related disease.
  • Eat consciously – Stop munching just because food is there. Eat until you are almost full, then stop.
  • Plant-based diet – The cornerstone of the blue zone diets are plant-based foods. They eat meats only five times a month.
  • Moderately indulge in alcohol – While heavy drinking is terrible for your health, a glass of red wine from time to time does a body good.
  • Have faith – Whatever religion or spiritual guidance you seek, be active with your faith.
  • Family – Keep your family close. It takes a village to raise all of us.
  • Be social – Friends help ease your burdens, provide stress relief, and give you emotional support. Not to mention the laughs and fun.

Incorporating These Habits
In our fast-paces lives, we tend to be constantly on the move, but we aren’t really living in the moment. Instead we are checking off items from our To Do lists. By making small changes on a day to day basis, we can easily improve our outlook, our health, our level of enjoyment, and our potential lifespan.

Since I’ve read about these blue zone lifestyles, I’ve been making a conscious effort to improve my way of life. I’d love to be one of those octogenarians running around looking fit and having fun. The only way I can achieve that goal is by working on me now at this point in my life.

I am sure these changes would also be as easy for you to add to your life as they were to add to mine.

  • Watch the diet – I love my leafy greens, beans, nuts, and veggies. I focus on whole foods – food that has been minimally processed. All of those chemicals and additives do nothing to help us.
  • Stay hydrated – Whether you’re a tea drinker or prefer just plain water, make sure you drink enough every single day.
  • Bicycling – I do my part to save the planet and myself by walking and bicycling. I know I can’t do it for every errand, but when I can avoid sitting in the car, I do.
  • Meditation – If you don’t enjoy yoga, even sitting in a quiet room to center yourself is good for your mind and body.
  • Be involved – I love sharing, learning new things, and helping our world. Volunteering is a great way to accomplish many goals.

While the human lifespan as increased by 30 years over the past century, much of this can be attributed to lower infant mortality rates and medical advances. How amazing would it be if scientists 100 years from now were to be able to report that longevity has increased due to lifestyle changes?

I certainly have a lot to do each day and my bucket list seems to grow every time I see something I find interesting. I work hard to care for myself both body and mind, but I still wonder if I will be blessed with the ability to continue my energetic pace well into my golden years.

I am keeping a positive outlook and continue to incorporate small changes that ultimately lead to big improvements. No one wants to live into their 90s+ if they are bedridden or unable to care for themselves. Stay active. Stay fit. Eat well. Smile. Laugh. Enjoy life. Treat your body and your life like the gifts they are.



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