The concept of wellness has allowed me to focus on a more holistic approach to health and fitness.
I’ve found that since I switched to paying attention more to the overall needs of an individual, it has helped me deliver a higher quality service to them.
Well it turns out that other fields (economics) are diving into a wellness revolution too.
There seems to be more and more effort in establishing just how interconnected health and fitness really are with other aspects of your life.
Anthropology may also help us further understand longevity and how it may relate to quality of life.
Recently a team of (this is hardly a new concept actually) National Geographic researchers, attempted to find areas on the planet where living past 100 is a significantly greater statistic than in most of the rest of the world.
The lead researcher, best-selling author, and founder of Blue Zones, Dan Buettner led this team of researchers to 5 places in the world in an attempt to find co-relational data on living a longer, more full-filling life.
- Okinawa, Japan
- Sardinia, Italy
- Ikaria, Greece
- Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
There might be a huge co-relation between quality of life and your longevity. These days we’ve got machines, pills and all kinds of other things to prolong your life, but at what cost?
These researchers were looking for long traditions shared between populations, habits we might be able to mimic that could potentially explain their abnormally long lives.
Interestingly enough, a lot of it seems like common sense but a lot of it is not as deliberate as we tend to interpret.
This is a very simplified list of some of the commonalities these researchers discovered, that may establish good longevity habits between all of the cultures they studied:
1) Move Naturally
Moving regularly at all, I would argue to be beneficial, but exercise can add years of good quality years to your life.
None of these cultures necessarily went out of their way to exercise, but lived very active lifestyles where walking and hiking are a regular part of the day.
In the North American society of office working, that more traditional lifestyle may, or may not, be particularly practical for us, so deliberate exercise seems to be as effective, especially when used in combination with the habits below.
There is a growing body of research to suggest that exercise slows the impact of aging. Specifically I recommend resistance training in combination with mobility work and energy system work but you needn’t get too complicated.
2) Have the Right Outlook
Specifically, knowing your purpose and being able to downshift your life at appropriate times. All of these communities encourage living life from the inside-out.
These cultures promote a lifestyle full of purpose and the understanding yourself, your values, passions and your needs. There is autonomy, of course, and an emphasis on mastering your purpose but also the ability to downshift.
I also think that adopting a ‘Growth Mindset‘ is a critical component of this.
One critical component discussed in this book also, is relaxation and down-time — do you have an outlet?
In the North American pace of work, it is perhaps even more important to take a step back for things like meditation, alone time (reading, writing), stretching, yoga, progressive relaxation or other attempts at obtaining calmness and de-stressing.
Having he right outlook appears to be very important to longevity and well-being, so I question our cultures outlook ability at present.
3) Eat Wisely
I think this goes without saying. Though each diet is unique of the places studied, they had some commonalities.
They ate a lot of plant based substances, followed Haru Hachi Bu (In Okinawa) and drank wine in moderation (2 glasses of wine or less most days in Sardinia).
I think there is slightly more to it for the average North American, as we unlearn poor eating habits, but this is the right track.
I still believe that the majority of people need a coach/mentor to help them find what works for them, especially by way of learning good eating skills — cooking for instance.
Eating is individual, but fundamentally we as North American’s need to eat more whole foods, especially in the form of fresh vegetables and fruit and considerably less processed foods.
I’m not sure we really have to make it much harder than that, but the next step would definitely be increasing the quality of the food we are consuming.
No surprise here, the last critical component for longevity appears to be social connection.
The Okinawans have “Moais” or friend groups they are literally ‘born into,’ and I think this is an incredibly cool cultural behavior.
The concept kind of reminds me of mastermind groups commonly found in the business world, but from birth.
Having spiritual faith that brings you together with groups of people — and it doesn’t appear to matter which type of faith or what you are coming together for — also seem to enhance longevity.
I would argue that religion aside, your group of people could be any tribe really.
Your tribe could be the group of people you exercise with, do yoga with, a mastermind group or any other regular gathering.
What’s really important is the coming together to congregate over common beliefs especially, it seems, later in life. We are social creatures and it is important to remember that.
The question remains, now that you know all of these behaviors that drive longevity:
What are you going to do about it?