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 recently wrote about the unique characteristics of four such regions: Okinawa, Japan; Icaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. The oldest woman on Earth lives on 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; eating a healthy diet and only until you are at 80 percent 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 will you live longer, you’ll enjoy your longer life.