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Blue Zones

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Can improving your lifestyle only add more years to your life? Or is it the social and physical environment in which people live that affect people’s life longevity? Dan Buettner, New York best-selling author, has traveled the globe to uncover the best strategies for longevity and happiness. He discovered places that have the greatest life expectancy and where people reach age 100 years than anywhere else; he identified these places as the Blue Zones.

Dan Buettner, along with a team of researchers and scientists, explored the top five places where people live the longest around the world; Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Icaria in Greece, and Loma Linda, California in USA.

Okinawa, a remote Island 580 km off the coast of Japan, has the highest occurrence of proven centenarians. Okinawan seniors not only have the highest life expectancy in the world, but also the highest health expectancy; they remain vigorous and healthy into old age, suffering few age-related ailments.

Sardinia is an Island 195 km off the coast of Italy rich in male centenarians, who work as farmers or shepherds. In fact the town of 1,700 people boasts 5 centenarians. While Loma Linda is a community that includes 9,000 Adventists, a religious group that live longer than an average American.

The remote Nicoya Peninsula has an Island community in which middle-age mortality is surprisingly low. They also have the lowest rates of cancer in Costa Rica. Icaria is a Greek Island 56 km off the coast of Turkey. Chronic diseases are rare to occur there. People living on this Island have 20% less cancer, half the rate of cardiovascular disease, and almost no dementia.

Although these hotspots are relatively isolated and scattered around the globe, the research team discovered that their residents share common characteristics that contribute to their life longevity.

Lessons from the Blue Zones

1) Stay active and maintain a vegetable garden. Gardening provides you with a good opportunity for exercise, and exposure to sunlight giving you the chance to absorb your daily dose of vitamin D that prevents osteoporosis and heart disease. These gardens are also natural sources for healthy and nutritious food.

2) Before eating, remind yourself with the Okinawan people to stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. Blue Zone’s residents eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, then they do not eat any more the rest of the day.

3) Develop a strong sense of purpose; find a reason to wake up in the morning which makes life worth living. Encourage a lifestyle that is physically active with plenty of time outdoors.

4) Make walking a part of your daily routine. Sardinian shepherds walk 5 miles per day which boosts mood and benefits muscle and bone metabolism.

5) Lessen stress. Take regular naps; people who nap at least five times a week for half-an-hour have 35% reduced chance of cardiovascular disease. Stress hormones also decrease when you are napping. Embrace a positive outlook on life and smile.

6) Feed your soul. Researches show that engaging in spiritual activities can add around 4-14 years of life expectancy. Nurture emotional and spiritual health, value your family relationships, and prize volunteering.

References

www.bluezones.com
health.howstuffworks.com

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