Eating wisely, moving naturally, connecting with others and having a purpose or outlook is the key to a quality life.
We’re always doing our best to stay healthy and many of us want to live to a grand old age. So, how do we do that? Many people living in what’s known as ‘blue zones’ are living well into their hundreds with a combination of a good diet and exercise – and a few other ways that might just take you by surprise!
What’s a ‘blue zone’?
Blue zones are regions in the world where people don’t just live into triple-digits, but they do it with their bodies and minds well intact. The five regions are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.
So, what’s their secret?
Start as you mean to go on
First things first: a healthy breakfast. Starting the day right every day can go a long way in helping you live longer. Standard breakfasts you’ll find in blue zones usually consists of protein, complex carbohydrates (like beans or veggies), and plant-based fats (like nuts, seeds, and oils). Things like granola and oatmeal are popular, as well as soups, beans and rice. People also usually eat most of the day’s calories before midday.
It’s about more than just your diet
Blue zone residents don’t just credit food and exercise for their longevity – they have some other tips too.
- Slow down and take it easy. Things like stress are well known to affect life expectancy. None of the blue zones are found in cities, which is no surprise. Cities often have a faster-paced, more stressful vibe to them – but don’t worry, you don’t have to move out. Just take time to slow down and take a break when you need it. Self care is key.
- Think about when you drink. If you’re partial to a glass of wine here and there, try to drink it before you eat at night. People in blue zones tend to enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif instead of a late night guzzle, which is said to help moderate their drinking and promote a healthier lifestyle.
- Spend time with friends and family. Being socially connected to people you love and enjoy spending time with is invaluable for living longer. So, grab your pals, siblings, partners and kids, and spend some quality time together.
- Find what makes you happy. As well as finding things you enjoy doing, try to embrace optimism and gratitude in your everyday life. It can take time and work, but the psychological and physical effects are priceless. This can be a hobby, a craft, helping others, giving back, self care.
- Move Naturally. Move in nature and move naturally. Allow it to become natural at regular intervals throughout the day. Consistency is the key, along with conscious and unconscious actions. Things like gardening, housework, running errands and walking the dog all count as much as a gym session. A great tool I have implemented over the last few months is getting in at least 500/600 steps per hour. It means it forces me to leave the desk and at the end of the day I am not worried about a huge deficit and faced with an impossible task of getting it all done when I am exhausted already.
So, even though you might not live in a blue zone, you can still adopt some of their practices. And by making changes to your everyday life, you might just find you’re living into triple figures too!