September is Healthy Aging Month - a month designated to focus attention on the positive aspects of growing older. As the summer comes to an end, it's the perfect time to re-evaluate where you are on your health journey and make the necessary changes to set you on a course to aging not only gracefully but also healthfully. Based on the findings of a decade-long study by Dan Buettner, there are certain habits and practices that the world's longest-living people engage in. Here are 9 tips to help add more vital years to your life:
1. Move naturally. The world's longest-living people don't join cross-fit gyms or run marathons. Instead, they create an environment that constantly promotes movement. They grow gardens, they walk to a friend's house and they scrub their houses clean with good old fashioned elbow grease.
2. Purpose. The world's centenarians have a sense of why they wake up in the morning - something to live for beyond just work. Research has shown that knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
3. Downshift. Everyone experiences stress. It leads to chronic inflammation which is associated with every major age-related disease. The world's longest-lived people have stress-reducing activities built into their daily routines.
4. 80% Rule. This is the practice of mindfully eating only up until you are 80% full. The longest-living people eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and don't eat the rest of the day.
5. Plant slant. Your mother was right! Vegetables, beans and legumes are the staple food groups in most centenarian diets.
6. Wine @ 5. Moderate drinkers of alcohol outlive non-drinkers. Drink one or two glasses per day with friends or with food.
7. Right Tribe. The world's longest-lived people choose, or were born into, social circles that support healthy behaviours.
8. Community. Almost all the centenarians who were interviewed belonged to a faith-based community. Denomination doesn't matter, it's the spiritual practice that adds to your life expectancy.
9. Loved Ones First. Centenarians put their families first. They invest their time and love in all generations - parents, grandparents and children, which lowers disease and mortality rates.
Not sure where to start? I invite you to book a full health assessment during the month of September to discuss your health goals and create an action plan to help you not only survive but thrive over the next 30, 40 or even 50 years.
Want to learn more? Check out this Ted Talk by Dan Buettner - How to live to be 100+ to learn more about the world's longevity hot spots, aka. Blue Zones.
Reference: Buettner, D. The Blue Zones Solution. National Geographic. Washington, DC. 2015.