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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

The Key to Longevity

How to live a long and healthy life...by taking tips from the Blue Zone lifestyle.



Ah, the key to a long and vibrant life...for many of us, it's the holy grail. How can we take steps to improve not only the length but also the quality of our lives? Well, we can look to the Blue Zones for answers to these questions. What are the Blue Zones you ask? Well, they are areas across the world (like Costa Rica, Okinawa in Japan and Ikaria in Greece) where people have regularly been documented to be over 100 years old and in good health. There are some universal lifestyle practices across all these areas that we can adopt to help improve our longevity and quality of life:


Being regularly active, especially in nature. Blue Zone residents often spend a lot of time outdoors, walking up and down hills well into their old age. This helps to maintain muscle mass and bone density. Even if we can’t get out into the countryside easily, there are benefits to doing regular walks and anti-gravity exercises like squats or push-ups.



Eating a Mediterranean diet. A typical Western-style diet is rich in pro-inflammatory foods like processed snacks, polyunsaturated fats and lots of meat. Instead, the Mediterranean diet is predominantly based on fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil. Meat, usually in the form of lean protein like fish, is usually eaten once or twice a week. The Blue Zone diet also incorporates a lot of fresh herbs that support longevity and help maintain healthy gut bacteria. Examples are rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano. Making small adjustments to incorporate more of these elements into our diet can reap lots of health benefits.



A Mediterranean style diet has many benefits and can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.


Getting restful sleep. Adults can benefit from a short midday nap if possible – this has been shown to improve memory and reduce stress. Also, work on improving the quality of your nighttime sleep – set a bedtime alarm, switch off all electronic devices 1 hour before bed, have the bedroom cool, dark and free of distractions. Even having a bedside diary to write down 3 things you’re grateful for, or your to-do list for the next day can be helpful.


Nurturing social connections. We are social creatures, and healthy life affirming human connections are a key component of a well-rounded lifestyle. Take time to regularly connect with friends and family, and even to get involved in volunteer work or community projects. Having a sense of purpose and of giving back to the community is also a powerful longevity factor.




Having a sense of purpose. Having a clear sense of life purpose (Ikigai in Japan) is important for healthy longevity. Get involved in communities or projects that ignite your passion, such as volunteering, teaching or gardening to name a few. For some people, connecting to their sense of religion or spirituality is where they find their life purpose. Spending time journaling and exploring what fires you up is a great place to start finding your sense of meaning.


Having a clear sense of life purpose (Ikigai in Japan) is important for healthy longevity.

I hope you’re able to start small and make some of these changes today, to start working towards a long, healthy life!


Be well,

Paula



Dr Paula Robertson is a mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years’ experience working with children, young people and their families. You can find out more at www.paulathedoctormom.com.

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