Tag Archives: Physical exercise

The #1 Factor that Contributes to Living a Long Life

I knew I was getting ‘old’ when I realized NPR was my favorite radio station!

Anyway, I was particularly engaged by one interview discussion on a study conducted with octogenarians around the world. One of the significant findings was the revelation of the most important thing that helps people live very long lives.

The guest cited several contributing factors which I will summarize in a bit. But I want to encourage you to imagine what the top factor was.

Here are 5 of the factors:

1) Octogenarians eat largely a plant-based diet
I’ve been moving in this direction recently, striving for ever more veggies, fruits and beans. I must admit though, I’m a carnivore by blood type and the satisfaction that chewing on muscle provides is hard for me to replicate. But I have seen enough other studies confirming this to actually start shifting my intake mix. In this study, fava beans were seen repeatedly as a dietary staple.

2) When they eat meat (once a month or so), pork was the meat of choice
This finding shocked me. Pork has had somewhat of a ‘branding issue’ with a somewhat negative reputation although it’s a staple in our house as my husband has food allergies to many other meat protein sources. However, this is what people who live long around the world  eat.

3) Physical activity promotes longevity
We know this, right? But our lifestyle makes it challenging to get in the physical activity our bodies truly need. Many of us go to the office, sit in front of our computers all day, network at lunches and dinners and then go home. If we’re good, we walk, run, bike, do yoga, workout at the gym, do Pilates or Zuumba.

Around the world though, people have different lifestyles that incorporate movement. They garden and walk frequently. Their lives are done in motion.

4)  Daily napping contributes to a long life
This is another practice that seems challenging, even wasteful to me (the overachieving, always-working-on-something person that I am.) I know the value of getting enough sleep and have begun going to bed earlier at least. But napping in the middle of the day?!?!?

Hmmm. However, evidence shows that getting plenty of rest keeps the body going longer. So take heed.

5) Octogenarians have a supportive ecosystem
People who live long don’t do so alone. They are connected to a social network (no, not Facebook), a live network of real people who know and support them. They get encouragement and love from their families and communities and just as important, give love to their communities.

They have a strong sense of faith and likely belong to a faith-based community. They are connected to others, here and ‘above’.

The top contributing aspect of this supportive ecosystem is having a clear sense of purpose. In many of the communities in which octogenarians prosper, the concept of retirement is non existence. People do their life’s work their entire lives. Even if they have jobs in their earlier years, they have a sense of personal purpose that incorporates, envelops or transcends their wage-earning means. It gives meaning to their lives. It gives them a reason to be here.

So my question to you is, ‘What is your purpose?’ What will keep you going after you’ve ‘retired’? What are you here for? What is so important to you that you would continue pursuing it until your last dying breath?

Take some time right now and write down in large print, your purpose…what your life is about…why you’re on this planet at this time.

Why your life will have mattered.

Then make sure you take action on it every day. And, oh yeah, incorporate the other ideas in this article to live long and prosper.

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