The Secret to Living Longer?

Birthday Cake

A recent article in the Idea Fitness website shares a summary of research done by Dan Buettner, Author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest (2008). Blue zones are areas where people live much longer than the rest of the planet such as Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica), and the Seventh-Day Adventist Community in Loma Linda, CA.

Buettner sought common demoninators which might help to explain why folks living in these places lived longer. The article on Idea Fitness features a summary by Canadian journalist, Matthew Kadey. Here are the common factors in the Blue Zones that Buettner studied.

  1. Each place had a prodominantly plant-based diet; that diet was not the same in each zone, but it was still plant based.
  2. Daily life was filled with physical activity. Whether it was shepherding, pounding grain, farming or exercise, this was a common attribute of each place.
  3. While the “purpose” varied in each Blue Zone, inhabitants had a strong sense of purpose in their lives. Whether it was commitment to community, fulfillment at work, etc., people in these areas in general had a strong reason to live.
  4. Social interaction was prevalent. Each of these communities had many opportunities for people to gather in social settings; there was a strong sense of interconnectedness.

What can we draw from these results? Kadey suggests that we can learn and adapt from Buettner’s findings ways to lengthen our days. We can switch to a more plant-based diet, keep ourselves physically active, find meaning/purpose in our lives, and take advantage of or create opportunities to have social interactions. Combining all of these appears to be a key feature of the Blue Zones.

Of course, not only do these factors seem to contribute to a long life, but to a healthy, meaningful one as well! Let’s make our own Blue Zones.

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