It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.
― Andy Rooney
People don’t mind getting older, it’s the thought of aging that scares them. I think if you asked anyone if they could live to be 100 perfectly healthy and pass on their 101st birthday they’d all jump at the opportunity, myself included. I don’t want to live to be 120, I just want to be functional as long as possible. I think the term for this is quality of life.
I recently attended an aging conference in Southern California. Comprised of MDs, RDs, and researchers alike, the speakers gave incredible perspective on aging. Some spoke of how health care will change for the Baby Boomers, interesting but not my cup of tea. What really caught my attention was talk of The Blue Zone. Sounds like a future James Cameron expedition, I assure you it isn’t.
Live to be 100 or Die Trying
1. Move Naturally and Lower Stress
I don’t know what weekend-warrior tribe you’re from, but humans weren’t really meant to exercise at Ironman distances. Research shows that excessively strenuous exercise can itself become a stressor, especially for those over 50. Some refer to natural movement as “working in” instead of working out. Either way, incorporate exercise into daily tasks. Gardening for instance, or biking to the store. One particular stress reliever common to the long lived is wine in moderation. Not so fast with that bottle though, 1-2 glasses per day is all it takes and no “saving up” for an extravagant weekend. Daily prayer or meditation is another great way to downshift and quash your stress.
2. Purpose and Belonging
One of the most neglected facets of health is spiritual health. Waking up to a sense of purpose is what keeps us going day after day. The Blue Zone site claims this is worth an extra 7 years of life expectancy. I can’t back that up with sources but it makes a lot of sense. Attend church, be social, go to bridge, whatever you need to feel part of the community. Like this retirement home below. What’s it worth? Between 4-14 years of life.
3. Avoid Overeating and the Wrong Food
Many centenarian societies have rules for when to stop eating. In Japan they use the 80% rule. Stop eating when you’re 80% full and give your stomach time to signal the brain, you will almost always feel satisfied. In line with this, centenarian societies generally eat plant-based diets with meat once or twice per week.
And that’s all there is to it. The Blue Zone actually broke it into 9 facets, but they pretty much boil down to Body, Mind, and Spirit. Move, Relax, Socialize, and Practice Moderation. Cover those and you’re well on your way to becoming one of the few who’ve seen Halley’s Comet twice with a few years to spare..
Live long and pros…err be good to each other.