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The Blue Zones – Nine Lessons for Living Longer

Originally published in Dan Buettner’s bookThrive.

If you live the average American lifestyle, you may never reach your potential maxi­mum lifespan. You may even fall short by as much as a decade. But what if you could follow a simple program that could help you feel younger, lose weight, maximize your mental sharpness, and keep your body working as long as possible? Indeed, what if you could get back the extra decade of healthy life that you may unknowingly be squandering.

– Dan  Buettner

The Power Nine lessons are patterned after the lifestyles of Blue Zone centenarians. All nine lessons offer the chance to gain more good years, so start slowly and pick the ones that are easiest to do first.

Lesson One: Move Naturally

Longevity all-stars engage in regular, low-intensity physical activity, often as part of a daily routine. An ideal routine includes a combi­nation of aerobic, balancing, and muscle strengthening activities. Begin by adding more activity to your day. Walking is one activity that all success centenarians did almost daily. Exercise, like yoga, will help increase balance, strength, and flexibility.

Lesson Two: Stop Eating When Your Stomach is 80% Full

We gain weight insidiously, not by stuffing ourselves, but eating a little bit too much each day mindlessly. Eat more slowing and focus on the food. Give yourself a reminder by weighing yourself daily Weighing yourself is one of the most surefire ways to reduce your weight and keep it off in the long run.

Lesson Three: Plant Slant

Eat four to six vegetable servings daily. Limit intake of meat.  Include beans in your diet and eat nuts every day.

Lesson Four: Grapes of Life

Studies seem to show that people who have a daily drink per day of beer, wine, or spirits may have some health benefits. Red wine offers an extra bonus in fighting arteriosclerosis. But, take it easy. Overdoing it negates any benefits you might enjoy.

Lesson Five: Purpose Now

Start with “Why do I get up in the morning?” Consider what you’re passionate about, how you enjoy using your talents, and what is truly important to you. A new activity can give you purpose as well.

Lesson Six: Downshift

Reduce the noise by limiting the amount of your screen time. Be early. Meditate.

Lesson Seven: Belong

Healthy centenarians everywhere have faith. Studies show that attending religious services may make a difference in how long a person lives. People who attend services may have higher self-esteem and self-worth because religion encourages positive expectations.

Lesson Eight: Loved Ones First

The most successful centenarians put their families first. Establish family rituals. Display pictures of our parents and our children. It serves as a constant reminder that we’re not islands but connected to something bigger.

Lesson Nine: Right Tribe

This is perhaps the most powerful think you can do to change your lifestyle for the better. Create time with people who reinforce the right habits, who challenge you mentally, and ones which you can truly rely on in case of need. Be likable yourself. Likable people are more likely to have social networks.