I was watching Oprah today, and they were discussing "blue zones" - areas in the world where people are living longer, happier, healthier lives than is common. The four areas highlighted were Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California and lastly Japan. Though each area had unique elements that promoted happiness or wellness and therefore a long life, there were many commonalities that we all could learn from and incorporate into our lives.
1. Exercise! One thing all these communities had in common was regular exercise. Whether it was the result of their rigorous daily activities (such as gardening, cleaning or cooking), going for a brisk walk, or heading the the gym, all the elderly (yet thriving) people interviewed made time for movement.
2. Gather social support! All the areas studied had particularly high levels of family and community involvement with the aged members of society. Spending time with people you love, laughing, and having a sense of belonging all promote happiness and longevity.
3. Eat local! The communities shown were mostly small towns whose economies revolve around farming. Their diets were rich in natural, healthy, local foods. Eating fresh, organic foods that are produced locally is both eco-friendly and body-friendly. Local foods have fewer preservatives to maintain freshness than foods that have to travel to your table.
4. Seek purpose! Lastly, all the individuals on the show who were thriving in their 80s, 90s or even after age 100, felt they had a purpose and something to contribute. They filled their days with things and activities that they enjoy. They all had a self-identified reason to keep striving for health and wellness.
These tips may seem somewhat logical, but even so, many of us do not live by them. Think about small changes you can make to your routine to give you happiness and health; and perhaps make a vow to yourself to make some positive changes starting now!