In the U.S., life expectancy is around 77 years old, but there are some areas of the world where humans live up to 100 years, and live this long consistently. These areas are known as “Blue Zones”. They have taught us that a long and healthy life is possible for all of us. It’s safe to say that if we want to live longer lives, there’s a lot that people in the blue zones can teach us about healthy aging.

The five Blue Zones are located in:

  • Sardinia, Italy – home to the world’s longest-lived men
  • Okinawa, Japan – home to the world’s longest-lived women
  • Loma Linda, California – Seventh-day Adventist community that outlives the average American by a decade
  • Ikaria, Greece – tiny island community with significantly reduced rates of common chronic illnesses
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica – area where people are more than twice as likely as Americans to reach 90 years of age

While 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic health condition – including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, demential, and 4 in 10 have two or more conditions, people living in these Blue Zones are less likely to suffer from chronic illnesses at all, and if you’re starting to ask why, we’re here to tell you it is possible to live without any illness at all.

The truth is we were meant to enjoy an abundant life of health and happiness, and so the lifestyles of those living in these Blue Zone areas have been studied and mimicked to create healthier communities here in the U.S.

What was found was that at the core of Blue Zone living, there were at least 7 lifestyle habits common to all. These habits were:

  1. Movement was a natural part of their day
  2. They had a strong sense of purpose
  3. They prioritized less stressful situations
  4. They didn’t eat until they were full. They practiced eating till about 80% full
  5. They ate a largely plant-based diet
  6. They drank alcohol in moderation
  7. They valued deep connections within their community

Now, you don’t need to halt your current lifestyle and follow these exact habits, but there are ways you can implement them into your already busy life and make the centenarian lifestyle work for you. Try picking a principle you want to work on, and then ask yourself what you enjoy doing, what you have access to, when you can make time for it and what’s realistic for you

Here are some healthy living ideas to get you started:

  • Walk, swim, garden or find some other form of physical activity you enjoy
  • Find an activity or accountability buddy
  • Set reminders to stand up and move every hour
  • Increase the amount of vegetables on your plate at each meal
  • Try eating plant-based once a week
  • Make time for stress relief
  • Practice mindfulness and positive self-talk
  • Take steps to improve your sleep quality
  • Play a brain game
  • Disconnect from technology when with family and friends
  • Plan dedicated time to spend with your loved ones
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Join a local group, like a walking club, gardening group or faith-based organization

Prevention of chronic diseases is possible. Start with making these little changes for yourself, and see if they work for you, too.

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