Living Longer – What Costa Rica can teach us

Living Longer – What Costa Rica can teach us

 

Experts point out that there is no silver bullet to living longer. However, those who study the habits of people living in the “Blue Zones,” (which are the places in the world where people live the longest) say that making small changes to your everyday routine can make a big difference in the long run. The places they are suggesting you model are: Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

Especially during the Covid pandemic, as most people’s lives have been dramatically changed, here are three habits from the Blue Zones that can have big impacts on your longevity and happiness in the long run.

Staying connected with friends

Harvard studies have shown that people who have close relationships live longer than those who are isolated. The research suggests that If you’re socially disconnected or if you don’t have three friends you can count on when you are having a bad day, it shaves about eight years off your life expectancy, compared to somebody who’s well connected.

During the pandemic, even video calls can have a positive effect. If the conversation has emotional content to it, then even virtual connections produce positive benefits. In these times of physical social distancing replacing a coffee or lunch get together with a mid-day video call with someone you care about. Folding this habit into your new daily routine will keep you emotionally connected with friends and family.

Take a stroll every day 

Research shows that exercising wards off your risk of disease and death, but you don’t need an exercise bike or home gym to reap the benefits. People in Blue Zones walk every day and they make it to 100, most without all the other gadgetry and pageantry of working out.

People who commute to work and have to walk to a bus or train station have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular issues. If you’re working remotely and are more sedentary than usual, take walks around the block that mimic your morning and evening commutes. Going on walks during the pandemic is an easy way to exercise safely outdoors and also to socialize with friends and neighbors while keeping comfortable distancing. Studies have shown that walking daily will boost your creativity, improve your memory and even helps you sleep.

Siesta, 昼寝, Pisolino, υπνάκο,… NAP!

Taking short mid-afternoon naps is common in many of these Blue Zone regions. People who report napping at least 20 minutes, five days a week, have about a third lower rate of heart disease than people who just motor through the day. Experts point out that after a nap, you typically feel sharper and have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, regular nappers also have less inflammation in their bodies, he adds. (Chronic inflammation is associated with several diseases.)

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the key to avoiding grogginess is to only nap for 20 minutes. If you’re working from home, squeeze in a power nap during your lunch break, it will improve your performance. Studies show that short power naps can increase job performance by up to 34% and improve alertness by 54%.

The keys to a longer, healthier, and ultimately happier life can be as simple as that. Friends and Family, Walk a bit, and sneak a Nap in every day. That doesn’t sound so tough right?

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