A certain aphorism says, “It’s not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years.” But wouldn't it be great to have both years in your life and life in your (very long) years?
A lethal combination of chronic stress, hereditary diseases, unhealthy lifestyle, and environmental pollution, however, shortens a human’s lifespan. Fortunately, there are people around the world that show the rest of us it is possible to live beyond 100 and remain vital and young at heart. These super-centenarians are found in the Blue Zone, that part of the globe where an unusual concentration of people with long life spans lives. Scientists are still finding out what exactly makes a super-centenarian, but there have been parallels in the experiences of these people in the Blue Zone.
They have ‘ikigai’
Having a reason for waking up is a compelling motivator to keep you going no matter how long the road is from where you are now to where your end will take you. It will give you a reason for being and that in itself will keep you from feeling depressed (depression being a major factor in a person’s decline). Living your ‘ikigai’, like the super-centenarians of Okinawa, Japan, will imbue your life with meaning, with purpose, and with joy.
They build a strong social network
Not necessarily of the social media kind, a strong social network insures individuals against feelings of loneliness, of being cut off from others that goes against the very nature of a social animal. Science has established the benefits of touch in terms of strengthening our immune system, and absence of this crucial social glue inevitably leads to a weakened physical and mental constitution. This is what scientists have confirmed from super-centenarians in the Blue Zone of the earth. Sardinians have fanatical zeal for the family, and it is not uncommon to find super-centenarians sharing a weekly meal with four generations of his or her clan.
They engage in regular physical activity
In Okinawa, it is routine to see octogenarians or nonagenarians going out to sea to dive for their next meal. In Loma Linda, California, a centenarian has just renewed her driver’s license and a major reason for her enduring acuity is a morning exercise of weight-lifting and riding a stationary bicycle. Exercise, of course, has long been hailed as an effective antidote against diseases brought on by obesity: cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and stroke being the most fatal.
They make healthy choices
Loma Linda was placed in the Blue Zone map because the majority of its population are devout Seventh Day Adventists. The SDA religion reinforces healthy habits of no smoking, no drinking, eating plenty of vegetables, and taking a day off during Sabbath. Altogether, these choices lead to a healthier and longer life that Loma Linda residents have come to be known for.