“Aging well” means different things to different people, but at its core aging well is really a combination of health, happiness, and fulfillment. This is exemplified in communities around the world, known as “Blue Zones” where people live exceptionally long and happy lives. What was once a demographic mystery, however, is now chronicled on the Blue Zones website where seniors can find out what works, what doesn’t, and how to “live longer and better.” Take a look at these Blue Zones aging tips for a great new year.
Tip #1 Happiness matters
Happiness is such a cliche term now that it’s hard to differentiate it from temporary thrills. In relation to aging well, happiness encompasses more than just how you feel in the moment – it’s an overall state of comfort and joy that is influenced by your friends and family, what you eat, how much you exercise, how you fill your time, your faith, and even where you live. All of the above can bolster happiness, resulting in a more satisfied, joyous, and longer life. Find out where you stand on the happiness scale by taking the Blue Zones True Happiness Test.
Tip #2 Live in a place that’s good for you
The 20th century was one of enormous growth and development and one that changed the structure of our towns and cities. Instead of close neighborhood communities with food and other amenities within walking distance, the suburban lifestyle has pushed us farther and farther apart and created a great deal of loneliness and isolation.
Today, though, there is a push to change that. Bike lanes and walking paths are lining and intersecting roads and streets, fresh wholesome foods are becoming more available locally, and planned communities are having a more positive impact on how we live and age. Learn more about the importance of where we live in the Blue Zones article, “What is Walkability? (And Why it Matters for Health, Resilience, Happiness).”
Tip #3 Laugh more
We’ve all heard the old Milton Berle quote — “Laughter is the best medicine,” but now we know it for a fact! From the spontaneous giggle to the belly laugh, laughter has multiple positive impacts on our physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.
According to Blue Zones
“Laughter – doing it or observing it – activates multiple regions of the brain: the motor cortex, which controls muscles; the frontal lobe, which helps you understand the context; and the limbic system, which modulates positive emotions. Turning all these circuits on strengthens neural connections and helps a healthy brain coordinate its activity. 1
By activating the neural pathways of emotions like joy and mirth, laughter can improve your mood and make your physical and emotional response to stress less intense.”
And there’s much more to learn about the benefits of laughter in the Blue Zones article, “The Science of Laughter and Its Physical, Cognitive, and Emotional Power.”
Tip #5 Get moving
According to the U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services, “Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active” 2 and “More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.” 3
Yet, we know that exercise and movement are absolutely essential to health and longevity. Mild to moderate physical activity weekly improves not only physical well-being but cognition and mental health as well. Seniors are often hampered by physical limitations, but there are many ways to keep moving without running a marathon. One of those is through Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or N.E.A.T. Who knew sweeping the floor could count as exercise? Learn more in the Blue Zones article, “The N.E.A.T. Way to Exercise for a Longer, Healthier Life.” 4
Tip #6 Focus on positive eating habits
“Eating better” is a terrible goal we all set for ourselves, and one few rarely follow through on. There is (almost) always room for improvement in the foods we eat. For those with health concerns such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, a healthy diet is especially important and should factor into every meal and snack.
According to the Blue Zones article, “Blue Zones Diet: Food Secrets of the World’s Longest-Lived People,” food is in itself a culture that, in Blue Zones, focuses on plants (and plant-based products like olive oil and tofu), and limits meat to twice a week. Fish, eaten in moderation, is also a central component, but processed foods and dairy should be limited or avoided. But the pillar of all Blue Zones diets is the lowly bean, including lentils, soybeans, white beans and black beans. Sound too complicated? Even starting with small steps like eating a balanced breakfast or healthy snack daily can make meaningful changes in a senior’s life. At Arrow Senior Living, we believe a healthy, happy and productive retirement is something everyone deserves. That’s why we go the extra mile to make life better, more fun and more fulfilling for our residents. Would you like more tips from the Blue Zones? Download our guide- Blue Zones or contact us today to learn more.