By Cozette Eldridge, W.P. Co. Field Representative
There are five towns in the world known as Blue Zones. They are specific geographic areas where an extraordinary number of people live long and healthy lives. Many live to be over one hundred and don’t have the health problems common to aging.
A Blue Zone research team analyzed the data to find the common threads. Results showed that despite differences in nationality and ethnicity, the longest-lived people all shared certain lifestyle characteristics.
Although they don’t set out to exercise, their everyday routines involve moving about. They all walk a lot, to the market, to visit a neighbor or for normal chores. They cultivate gardens, which involves bending and moving. Many are involved in physical work such as farming and herding sheep.
A recent study showed that regular walking can help older adults live longer. Begin with a short walk or bike ride and increase the time as it becomes easier. Take the stairs instead of an elevator. Any little bit helps.
Stress can be a killer, so it’s not surprising the people in the Blue Zones have effective ways of easing tension. These people know how to keep stress from reaching toxic levels. If you’re stressed find ways relax. It may be through meditation, socializing, indulging a hobby or getting outdoors.
Blue Zone living involves spending time with and supporting family members of multiple generations. Studies have shown that people who maintain strong family relationships live longer and experience fewer health issues. A full 98% of Blue Zone centenarians adhered to some sort of religious faith. Studies have shown that people who attend religious services at least once a week tend to have a lower mortality rate than those who never attend. Social community connections are a key part of all Blue Zone societies. Older adults who maintain socially active lives have significantly lower rates of disability and cognitive decline. People in each Blue Zone eat different things, but the common denominator is plant-based foods. Beans feature prominently in most centenarians’ diet, as do fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and whole grains. Meat is consumed a few times a month and in small amounts. Some groups are vegetarians. Processed foods don’t feature in the Blue Zone diet at all. They focus on whole foods that are full of nutrients and fiber. When making sweets, honey generally replaces sugar, and are reserved for special occasions.
In a nutshell, it all comes down to a healthy lifestyle.
SENIOR CENTER MENU
MARCH 18 – MARCH 22
MON. Spanish Omelet, Onion Roasted Potatoes, Biscuit, Banana, Orange Juice
TUES. Grilled Tuna Sandwich, Minestrone Soup, Cottage Cheese, Peaches
WED. Lasagna, Chopped Spinach, Garlic Bread, Orange
THUR. Pork, Baked Potato, Mushroom Gravy, Carrots/Peas, Salad, Fruit
FRI. Corn Beef/Cabbage, Potatoes/Carrots, Dinner Roll, Jello/Fruit