Secrets to a long life, revealed at last

Secrets to a long life, revealed at last

Want to know what experts say are the two secrets to a long life? We’ll get to the answer soon enough. First, some background.

It starts with a look at places where people live for a long, long time. Think 90s, 100s and even supercentenarians, or people who have reached the age of 110.

A researcher in Madrid, Spain studied the unique characteristics of four such regions: Okinawa, Japan; Icaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Some of the oldest people on Earth live in Okinawa, for instance.

The people of Icaria have the lowest senile dementia levels, while Nicoya has the second-largest group of centenarians in the world. A community of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda live on average 10 years more than the typical American.

The researchers identified nine key factors. These include physical activity every day — a sedentary lifestyle is unknown to them; reducing stress by pausing during the day for naps, prayer or a tea ceremony; and eating a healthy diet and only until you are at 80% of capacity instead of gobbling until you are full.

They boiled this down to two key points: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including routine breaks from stress. And be part of a group that supports these good habits, such as an extended family, a religious community or a social group that has its own “ikigai,’’ [ee-kee-gah-ee], a Japanese term meaning reason to live.

There is a personal ikigai but also a collective one that sets goals for the group and overcomes challenges.

So, there is it: Take care of your body and soul and surround yourself with people who do the same. Not only might you live longer, you’ll enjoy your longer life.

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