Have you ever wondered what it takes to live to or even past 100? The answer is not as difficult to find as the eluded fountain of youth -- part of the secret lies in simple habits and choices you can implement even today.
What exactly are the characteristics of a healthy lifestyle, you may be wondering? The best places to look are in the world’s 5 Blue Zones. Dan Beuttner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author, scoured the globe with his team and found five areas where people statistically live the longest. Many people here live up to 100 or more with sharpness and spunk. If you’re looking to truly experience what it means to be your healthiest and live longer, here are some secrets behind blue zone habits that aren’t so much a secret after all!
The Truth About The "Power 9"
The Power 9 are everyday lifestyle habits shared between the world’s five blue zones. If you want to experience longevity, consistency is the key!
Regular Exercise -- This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be dedicated to the gym. People in blue zones incorporate physical activity into their surroundings by doing things such as gardening, choosing to walk or ride a bike to places rather than drive, or even making bread from scratch. Feel free to pick something that works for you and keep moving!
Predominantly Plant-Based Diet -- Although many people in blue zones do consume meat and dairy occasionally, the bulk of their diet comes from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and most importantly, legumes. The more variety, the better. And don’t worry about missing out on your caffeine fix! Both coffee and tea are staples, although you might want to cut back or even follow suit entirely and omit the cream and sugar.
Portion Control -- Where many of us are used to being served huge portions, instead of forcing ourselves to finish everything on our plate, take it from people in blue zones that eat until they’re 80% full. This can help prevent unhealthy weight gain, slowed digestion, and bloated feelings. Say goodbye to diets and hello to moderation!
A Sense of Purpose -- Individuals have a reason to wake up and get out of bed each morning. Having a sense of purpose keeps you feeling good as a motivator, and living from this perspective can add up to seven years to your life.
Discover your values, passions, gifts, and talents, then incorporate ways to put your skills into action so they can add meaning to your life and the lives of those around you.
Manage and Release Stress -- Everyone experiences stress. Still, those in blue zones learn to channel and decrease that stress into other things, whether it be yoga, naps, happy hour, prayer, or other fun yet relaxing activities.
Alcohol in Moderation -- It’s five o clock somewhere! Alcohol, particularly wine, is consumed regularly in blue zones. However, everything is in moderation as the max amount is two glasses a day. This is even better with friends or paired with a lovely meal.
Friends -- Social circles are an essential part of a centenarian lifestyle. Those with lots of friends and strong relationships have been found to have lower rates of disease, especially being around those that promote healthy behaviors.
Family is a Priority -- In line with having positive relationships, foster deep bonds with parents, grandparents, children, and significant others. This can help create a sense of belonging as well.
Faith-Based Communities -- Faith can help you feel connected to a community, minimize loneliness, and give purpose.
How Can I Start Living Healthier and Longer?
The vital thing to learn is that there isn’t one quick magic pill! Instead, it’s the day-to-day activities and choices that matter more. However, if all these habits seem overwhelming at once, you can start with little steps. Examples can include:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Replacing meat in your meal with some plant-based protein like tofu or lentils.
- Calling up a friend to check on them and catch up.
Even if you're not physically in a blue zone, you can live like you are! So start adding some of these healthy habits into your life, and the future you will thank you!
Blue Zones. (n.d.). 20 Habits For a Healthier, Happier Life.
McCoy, J. (2016, November 30). 9 Healthy Habits of the World's Longest Living People.