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What are the 9 secrets to a longer life?

The term “Blue Zones” was first used by author Dan Buettner, who explored areas of the world where residents lived exceptionally long lives. During his time in these areas, he discovered 9 common practices and lifestyle choices that contributed to this longevity. We take a look at some of the Blue Zone lifestyle factors you can incorporate into your life.


  1. Natural movement

Individuals living within these Blue Zone areas tend to have environments and routines that encourage simple movements through the day which helps them with their overall physical fitness.  KwaZulu-Natal’s weather and natural assets easily allow individuals to enjoy an active lifestyle; head to the beach for a walk along the shoreline, meet with friends and go for a hike. The options are endless.


  1. Having a purpose

According to Dan Buettner, “Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.” Join local communities, continue working, or lecture and impart with your skills; fill your day with purpose.


  1. Downshift to reduce stress

Those who live in Blue Zones make it a priority to cultivate routines that help alleviate day-to-day stresses.  “Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour,” explains Buettner. Find an activity you can do daily that helps you reduce stress.


  1. 80% Rule – Hara hachi bu

This Japanese mantra translates to “Eat until you’re 80% full” and reminds the people of Okinawa to control their eating habits so they can feel good after a meal and avoid feeling sluggish.


  1. Plant slant

This means that the main portion on your plate would be plant-based. Many Blue Zone individuals include beans to their diets with limited amounts of meat-based nutrition, often only eating meat around 5 times a month. Giving up meat for many can be challenging, and in order to achieve this, you can introduce plant-based meals into your diet gradually – why not try with a ‘Meat-free’ Monday to get introduced to this concept?


  1. Time for wine

A large portion of Blue Zone inhabitants consume a controlled level of wine. The Sardinians indulge 1-2 glasses of Sardinian Cannonau wine a day while some residents like the Loma Linda group do not partake in this practice for faith-based reasons. This step is purely dependent on the your preferences.


  1. Belong

During this research journey, Buettner uncovers that 5 of the 263 centenarians interviewed belonged to a faith-based community and that those who attended a service four times a month would add between 4 – 14 years onto their life.


  1. Loved ones come first

At the heart of many centenarians’ lives are their families. Relationships with your partners and children play an important part in cultivating cherished bonds.


  1. Finding the right tribe

One of the most important practices within Blue Zone regions is keeping the right company that support healthy habits and behaviour. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness is contagious; therefore it is important to spend time with the right people that support a positive lifestyle.


These practices are simple steps that have been part of the reason many people around the world have lived healthier, happier and longer lives.



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