Feeling Blue…

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelloudon/

You have probably seen those last item news bulletins of an elderly person celebrating their one hundred and elevntieth birthday surrounded by family and being asked the age old question. “What’s your secret to long life?”. The answer is normally not one you’d expect to hear “a tot of whiskey each day” or “cream in my porridge each morning” or some such odd revelation that they have thought to be beneficial to their long life.

I’ve often thought there is more to this and was delighted to learn recently of the Blue Zones. The Blue Zones are communities around the world where there are high proportions of long living people. Scientists have assessed how they live and what they do and come up with 9 determinants that these areas all have.

The determinants are:

1. They move — not exercise per se but moving to live. They may walk to the shops, do their garden, move more for work (farmers in mountainous regions). They just move.

2. They have a life purpose – they do what they have a passion for, they know what their goals in life are and they use those talents.

3. They can downshift (de-stress) – the Blue Zone groups still experience stress, that’s normal. But they have strategies for dealing with it. It doesn’t manifest into the huge problem that we experience.

4. They have an 80% rule – eat only until 80% full. When did we do that? Do we even know what 80% full is?! By eating until satisfied, not over-stuffed we could save money, improve our health and it would seem add upto 8 years on our life.

5. They eat vegetables and plants –Ā  they make them the main part of every meal. Eat meat less often and of an organic and local source.

6. Wine — they tend to be moderate, regular drinkers. Drinking red wine in small amounts daily. It’s drunk with meals and friends. Not a Saturday night binge because ‘its’ not a school night!’

7. They belong – the sense of belonging to the community either via a church, faith group or community support group is believed to make for a healthier, longer life.

8. Their family come first – keep your nearest and dearest close. If you don’t have them close by or you are on your own developing a close, supportive social network will help too.

9. Being in the right tribe – the Blue Zone groups have been shown to have been born into or moved into healthy environments. Research has shown that behaviours are catching! So if you hang out with people who chose to exercise, chances are you will too. If people around you smoke chances are you will too and so communities with healthier lifestyles tend to pass that on through the generations.

These regions are all over the world not just in one country or continent even. They are in

  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece

I don’t know about you but being healthy is WAY more important to me than being skinny or rich or having a flat belly. If you haven’t got your health you can’t even begin to get any of the other stuff you want out of life.

Where do you sit on that list? Can you tick the nine boxes? Do you think you are at optimum health?

Just a little thought for a Sunday morning!

PS. If you want to know more about getting healthy, drop me a line at heidi@strickers.org.uk to find out when my next series of ‘getting to grips with your health starts’

PPS. In the last series one of the participants said “I’ve got my beans back”, after just two weeks!


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