The Blue Zones are the name given to four geographical areas in the world, where people live considerably longer then the rest of us, many reaching well into their 100’s. The geographical regions are not particularly relevant, but how they live their lives is.
These groups have been extensively studied by scientists for the secrets of longevity which they may hold. Researchers have found several, common-sense, lifetime habits and support systems in common with these unrelated groups of people.
Dan Buettner’s 20 minute TED lecture explains it all, but I have also summarised it below.
If you want to live a long, fulfilled, pain-free and healthy life…
- Move naturally – you don’t “need” the gym or the yoga or the cross fit classes. These are all designed to give us intense bouts of exercise for the time poor individual. But this isn’t best for longevity, so it seems. The human body is designed to move constantly and “naturally” as it would, if it had to catch or grow its food, prepare it from scratch and then eat it. Natural physiological movements like running, walking, jumping, squats, rest periods, climbing, stooping, bending, lifting, carrying, chopping, gardening etc. In other words, keeping our bodies constantly moving doing the necessities of an active daily life. Our lives are so far removed from natural movements (chairs, tables, lifts, cars) it’s no wonder we suffer as a consequence. We have so many time saving but activity-reducing elements in our lives, cars, washing machines, food processors, electric lawn-movers, home deliveries from the supermarket). These have taken away the natural work-load that our bodies should be doing. To combat this we need to improvise within our lifestyle limitations. We can park further away in the car park, walk the stairs, buy a pedometer, stand at our desk, squat every few minutes, get a working treadmill to walk as you work… just keep moving our bodies in ways that nature intended, as much as we can, day after day.
- Develop the right outlook – Learn how to rest your mind. Any technique to slow your mind, reduce your adrenaline and cortisol levels, and reduce your body’s inflammatory burden which is taking such a load on our health these days. That may be praying, meditating, taking a siesta, listening to calm music, whatever works for you.
- Have purpose – know why you happily get out of bed every single day. What is your purpose in life? Who needs you every day? Never “retire!”
- Eat Wisely – Have a little of what you like, like wine for example. Eat a plant-based diet and do this 80% of the time.
- Connect – Put the needs of loved ones first. Belong to a group of like-minded healthy friends and have a faith/belief system that supports humanity and a sense of world connectedness.
Can we look at the parts of our life that we can practically implement and make positive changes?