Costa Rica. Okinawa. Sardinia. Loma Linda, California. Greece. What do these places have in common? They have blue zones, which according to researcher and author Dan Buettner, have a much higher percentage of 100-year olds—centenarians—than anywhere else on earth. So why do some places have people who live much longer than the rest of us?
Here are the top ten reasons people live to be really old, ten life approaches you can easily adopt. Nine are from Dan Buettner’s book, “The Blue Zones.” The other one is from Motivation.com!
Of these, four are considered physical health practices, four are sociological approaches, and two are of the heart and soul.
1. Move naturally, every day: Engage in regular, low intensity activity. Most of the people in blue zones are herders, farmers, or have a consistent, daily exercise routine that lasts more than 30 minutes!
2. Stop eating before you get full. In Okinawa, this practice is called hara hachi bu, and the elders on this island eat only up to 80% of their stomach’s capacity at every meal.
3. Don’t eat processed foods. Most centenarians eat fresh vegetables and very little meat. They completely avoid processed foods. Fast food does not exist in their diets. Since the body can’t store protein meat in the daily diet is considered a delicacy rather than a staple.
4. Drink red wine. How many studies are needed to validate the value of this drink? Enjoy a regular glass of merlot and pinot noir to celebrate the fact that you are living longer by doing so. Just don’t justify over consumption. A few glasses a week is about right.
5. Slow down and enjoy your community. Every blue zone populace takes time to enjoy each other in a communal setting. Stop working so much and start enjoying each other’s company more.
6. Be spiritual in a group. Regularly gathering in a spiritual community emboldens faith in one another and God. Spiritual communities are generally supportive and kind, which makes belonging and living more rewarding.
7. Put family first. By having a strong, deep, and wide family, older people are able to lovingly realize the fruits of their efforts. They are also are attended to by and can count on those younger than them. This makes for powerful, caring relationships.
8. Belong to the right tribe. Whether a member of an extended southern California religious denomination or part of a mountaintop community in Greece, people who share common life experiences and pursuits live longer simply because of this emotional and lifestyle connection.
Heart and Soul
9. Find a partner who helps you treat yourself well. This is not in “The Blue Zone,” but we include it here given our mile-a-minute lifestyle. We now recognize the importance of having a significant other in your life for at least a big portion of it, as a partner to help you navigate this face-paced world. The best significant other (whether this is a spouse, friend, or relative) helps you treat yourself well, in order for you to take time to learn, heal, have fun, and regularly reward yourself.
10. Have purpose. Doing what you love is not just a cliché. It has powerful impacts on how you experience and view each day, each hour, and each moment. In Okinawa, they have a phrase for this: “ikigai” which means "the reason I get up in the morning." Blue zones centenarians have very strong ikigai. To be able to live until you are very old you should too. Purpose gives your life meaning which gives you more reason to live.