Only a small portion of your life expectancy is based on your genetics. If you want to live longer, it’s all about your lifestyle.
There are places on earth where people live remarkably longer lives. These places, called Blue Zones, have the highest proportion of people who reach age 100. We all want to know…why? Why do people live longer in Blue Zones? Is it due to their geographic location, lifestyle or diet?
In 2004, researchers and demographers teamed up with National Geographic to answer this question. After searching the globe for the longest living populations, researchers found five locations that met their search criteria.
The Power 9
It turns out longer lifespans aren’t based solely on geographic location, nor diet, or even the right workout routine. Researchers found nine traits that Blue Zones most frequently have in common. These are called the Power 9. How many do you live by?
In America, we think of fitness as going to the gym for cardio and weight training. Contrary to popular American fitness methods, researchers found people who get their exercise from natural movements actually live longer. In Blue Zones, tasks such as gardening and performing household tasks without mechanical equipment are common. A desk job may require you to set aside time for the gym, but you can incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle – such as taking the stairs, commuting via bike in your neighborhood, or going for a lunchtime walk.
Your friends have more impact on your life behaviors than you’d think. Smoking, obesity, happiness and loneliness are contagious. If you choose to live in social circles that support healthy behaviors, you’ll live longer. Find life-long accountability partners and help one another create healthy habits.
Wine @ 5
Yep! You read it correctly. You’ll be surprised to know moderate and regular drinkers outlive non-drinkers in Blue Zones. There are some guidelines, of course. 1-2 drinks per day, preferably of red wine, with friends or food is the way to go. Binge drinking is considered damaging to health.
Do you belong to a faith-based community? Research shows attending a faith-based gathering four times a month will add 4-14 years to your life expectancy.
Loved Ones First
Families in Blue Zones have a strong connection to one another, sometimes even living in the same home. They keep aging grandparents close, commit to a life partner, and invest time in their children. This proves to decrease disease and mortality rates and can add up to 3 years of life expectancy.
If you dish out too much food on your plate, do you stop eating when you feel full or do you overeat? You’ve probably heard the advice, “Stop eating when you feel full,” or maybe you’ve been told, “It’s polite to finish everything on your plate.” The 80% Rule encourages us to stop eating when our stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20 percent gap could be the defining factor in losing or gaining weight. Next time you dish out too much food, stop eating a little earlier and give your body time to digest the food.
Why do you wake up in the morning? What motivates you to be the best version of yourself? Researchers found that people who lived with a purpose added seven years to their life.
Do you include beans – black, fava, soy and lentils – in your diet? These plant-based proteins are the cornerstone of Blue Zone diets. While meat is another great source of protein, pork is only eaten on average 5 times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards.
Stress is something we can’t shove under the rug. It’s important to deal with stress in a healthy way. What puts your stress into perspective? In Blue Zone communities, lowered stress is achieved by setting aside time each day to think about family, pray, rest, or socialize with friends over happy hour. Built up stress can lead to chronic inflammation and age-related disease.
By adopting the Power 9 traits of a Blue Zone lifestyle, the average person’s life expectancy could increase by 10 to 12 years!
Aliat is proud to be a registered Blue Zone Employer Community.