When my grandmother, Gammie, visited me in Berlin, Germany she was well over 80 years old. One day we were about to scale four flights of stairs. She looks at me with a grin and says, “Come on. I’ll race you.” No, she didn’t beat me up the stairs, but she did have a brisk pace all the way up. Gammie passed away at the age of 101. She was also well known for keeping her composure. As she was preparing to fall asleep for the final time, she makes one last adjustment of her wig and then passes away peacefully. What was the main reason for her living so long? Was it her genes? Her outlook on life? Her faith? Or was it eating and exercise? How about her strong family ties?
Many will immediately say that genes primarily dictate longevity. They are wrong. Research has proven that genetics make up only 25%. Our lifestyles make up 75% of our chances of living long and healthy lives. This is very good news. Since we determine our lifestyles, we are the ones who can improve it and thereby improve health and the overall quality of our lives.
A study has been conducted by National Geographic to find out why people live long. Certain pockets of people living very healthy and long lives were researched. The book by Dan Buettner titled, The Blue Zones, takes a close look at the lives of those living healthy lives well beyond the age of 100. Here are some of the common denominators among those blue zones. That means if you bring your life in line with these - or most - of these common denominators, you too may very well experience a much more energetic, healthier, happier and longer life.
Do this to live a healthier, happier and longer life:
- Family. Cultivate family ties. Gammie had strong family ties.
- Faith and Purpose. Find out why you are here and what your purpose is. This has an influence on your outlook on life. My grandmother, Gammie, had a great sense of humor and did not dwell on negative things.
- Physical Activity. Stay physically active and avoid too much sedentary time. Gammie was not one to sit around too much. She was mostly active.
- Pace Yourself. Slow down to speed up. Life is a marathon. Take breaks. Take vacations. Plan for recreational time. Recharge your body, mind and soul batteries. Gammie paced her life and carried that attitude with her.
- Eat Less. Stop eating when you are 80% full. Gammie was not a big eater.
Eat Mostly Fruits and Vegetables, Less Protein and Processed Foods. Gammie enjoyed eating fruits and vegetables.
- Strong Social Network. Gammie had a strong social network and visibly enjoyed the company of others. She treated everyone with kindness.
Every one of us can look at this list and find areas needing improvement. Do not underestimate the areas of family ties, faith, purpose and social networks. And do not overestimate the areas of eating and exercise.
Your Action Plan:
Put together a to do list for each of these areas. Brainstorm the list. Don’t make it academic. Be as concrete as possible. Then tackle each area to move your lifestyle in the direction that is healthiest for you. Don’t be discouraged. Be thankful that you are able to action plan your good health before it is too late.
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Article by Lt. Colonel Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret.
Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret is a leading authority on military-style physical fitness for civilians. He is nationally known as the Health Colonel and has been featured on the History Channel. He specializes in a military-style workout for all fitness levels on Fort Lauderdale Beach in South Florida. He is the author of Boot Camp Fitness for All Shapes and Sizes, Weight Loss - Twenty Pounds in Ten Weeks, among others. Website: www.BeachBootCamp.net