Awareness around living a happy, long life keeps growing as we quest for a better life. While nutrition plays a major role in how quickly we age, staying young in body and mind isn't just about food. Throughout the world, researchers have discovered "blue zones" where people regularly live, work and are happy into their hundreds. It's not a surprise that these geographic fountains of youth are situated in coastal areas, where seafood and fresh fruits and vegetables abounds. Besides proximity to water, these regions also share nine core lifestyle values, referred to as the "Power 9."
These Power 9 lifestyle values of people living in Blue Zones can be applied to anyone, anywhere.
- Move naturally: Blue zone people enjoy physical activity as part of their natural daily life. Walking running, stretching, etc. increase circulation and oxygenation of cells, keeping them tuned up and into life.
- Purpose: they know why they wake up in the morning. They have a concrete reason and a sense of purpose. This is critical, and something some people struggle with as we search for meaning. One lifestyle that has proven to envoke a great sense of purpose is living a "country life"- a.k.a. living off the land. Picture a life in which you wake up to roosters crowing, collecting eggs, making breakfast and cultivating land.
- Down-shift: they have effective stress relief techniques. Notice the growing yoga movement in the western world.
- 80% rule: they eat until they are only 80% full. This tip is interesting, as I reflect on a yoga training I completed 2 years ago which stressed this same rule, as practiced in Ayurveda, an Indian traditional form of health care.
- Plant slat: beans, legumes and other plant foods are emphasized (picture grilled vegetables, a bean dip, and a lively salad), and meat is not eaten frequently. Another important nutrition consideration.
- Wine @5: they regularly consume moderate amounts of alcohol (1-2 glasses per day). I love this rule!
- Belong: most belong to some kind of faith-based organization.
- Loved ones first: they put their families first, specifically by keeping parents or grandparents nearby or in-home. This is food for thought for many Americans.
- Right tribe: they were born into or chose social circles that supported healthy behaviors. Do you have a social and/or social media circle promoting your healthy habits and goals?
Which of these Power 9 rules are you missing in your life? Don't worry if you don't have them all down yet. Life is meant to be a journey of learning and improving a little bit each day, week and year. One step at a time, we'll get there together!