28February/2013

5 Ways To…Live Longer

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5 Ways To…Live Longer

By Alyssa Henry

 

What if scientists had discovered the secret to adding 10+ years to your lifespan? The short answer?  They have.

Ever since the famous Danish Twin Study of 1999 when it was established that your genes only determine 20% of how long you live, scientists have been scrambling to determine just what it is that affects that all-important 80%.

The oldest man in the world when he died in 2011 age 114, Walter Breuning, is happy to share the secrets to living long and living well: embrace change, even when it hurts (“Every change is good”); eat two meals a day (“That’s all you need”); and help others (“The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in”).

Taking a more scientific approach, one researcher who has come close to defining this elusive 80% is Dan Buettner, the founder of Blue Zones. Blue Zones are pockets of people around the world who live measurably longer lives than average. Five regions have been identified so far: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Icaria, Greece.  The people living in these places suffer from less disease, look younger, are happier and live much, much longer than the rest of us.  Why? Buettner made it his mission to crunch the data to find out. 

Here are five lessons from the longest living people on the planet.

 

  1. The 80% Rule
Sit down to lunch with an Okinawan and you will hear them say a mantra that they’ve repeated before every meal for 2500 years: hara hachi bu. Meaning ‘eat until 80% full’, this Confucian saying is all about mindfulness and avoiding overeating.

Live it!
Put this into practice at your next meal by being aware of when you start to feel satisfied – and then stop eating, even if there’s food left on your plate. Our ideas about portion size tend to be wildly overestimated, so this could take some time to get right.

 

  1. Learn to Manage Stress

Everyone experiences stress. It’s a fact of life – especially a fact of our fast-paced Western lives. And it’s doing you more damage than you realise: an American university study estimated that 85% of all doctor visits are from stress-related causes. Buettner’s study of the Blue Zones has led him to conclude that you can’t eliminate stress altogether, but you can change your lifestyle to manage it.

 

Live it! Ikarians nap, Sardinians do happy hour, Okinawans remember their ancestors and Adventists pray. The key is finding what causes you stress and doing your best to eliminate these triggers.  A daily stress journal is a good start.

 

  1. Have Friends

The towns of Roseto, Nazareth and Bangor in the US are only a few kilometres apart, they have the same size populations, the same population demographic and the people’s diet and exercise habits are the same. And yet, the death rate of Roseto is 30-35% less than Nazareth or Bangor. What’s the difference? This was the question asked by Dr Stewart Wolf. The unconventional answer was: community. Belonging to a community, having strong family ties and a wide circle of friends could be the single most important factor for longevity.

 

Live it! According to Buettner, participating in a faith-based service each week adds 4-14 years to your life, getting married adds 3 years and living near your parents lowers your risk of mortality. 

 

  1. Move naturally

Fact: the world’s longest living populations don’t run marathons, do HIIT training, pump iron or go to Body Attack classes.  But they do move naturally, slowly, frequently. Their lifestyles force them to – they grow their own food, do their washing by hand and walk everywhere.

 

Live it! High-intensity exercise isn’t bad, in fact, it’s really, really good. But spending more time just moving around and less time sitting is more important for staying mobile and healthy into old age.

 

  1. Get some sun!

One in three Australia adults are vitamin D deficient, according to a national study lead by the Chair of Exercise and Ageing, while 73% had below optimum levels. Our lack of this underrated and vilified vitamin could be a factor in our high levels of cancer, autoimmune ailments and heart disease.

 

Live it! We can’t get enough vitamin D from our diets alone – sunlight is the best way. Shoot for 15 minutes a day, no sunscreen, limbs and trunk exposed. Bonus tip: we need fat to synthesise vitamin D, so munch on a goat’s cheese and avocado salad while you’re at it.


Source Url: http://www.fitnesspromag.com/Features/tabid/4741/entryid/842/5-Ways-To-Live-Longer.aspx
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