Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Power 9: lifestyle habits to help you live longer

Every meeting or conference call at my company opens with a "health & safety moment." Over the years I've learned a wide variety of tips about how to keep myself and my family safe and healthy. This morning, my boss shared some tips from Bluezones.com. This is how they describe the project on the Web site:

"In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and hired the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people lived measurably better. In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States. They found the extra 10 years that we’re missing. After identifying the world’s Blue Zones, Buettner and National Geographic took teams of scientists to each location to identify lifestyle characteristics that might explain longevity. They found that the lifestyles of all Blue Zones residents shared nine specific characteristics. We call this list of characteristics the Power 9."

Here are the "Power 9" characteristics of longevity (go to the web site for more details), and how I'm doing personally:

1. Move Naturally

Americans burn fewer than 100 calories a day engaged in “exercise." We can get more physical activity naturally if we live in walkable communities, de-convenience our homes by getting rid of power tools and grow gardens. Walking is the best activity for longevity.
Need to improve in this area!! I've started trying to remember to take the stairs at work (up seven flights) and get on my feet when I'm on the telephone, but it's hard to break the old habits and remember the new ones.

2. Know your Purpose

People who know why they wake up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don’t. Know your values, passions and talents–and how to share them on a regular basis.
I think I'm doing okay in this area, but I do need to continue to focus on living intentionally, and spending my time living out my purpose (e.g., not wasting time).
3. Down Shift

Chronic inflammation caused by stress is related to every major, age-related disease. To reverse inflammation, find time each day to meditate, nap, pray or enjoy a happy hour.
Could improve in this area too. I often move too quickly and don't stop to decompress.
4. 80% Rule

Cut 20% of your calories with evidence-based practices: eat a big breakfast, eat with your family, remove the TV from your dining area and say pre-meal expressions of appreciation.
We eat together every chance we can, have our TV downstairs and out of sight, and pray before meals. However, I still could cut back on my calorie intake...following #5 more would help some.

5. Plant Slant

Eat mostly a plant-based diet heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. Eat meat in small portions (the size of a deck of cards) fewer than twice weekly.
We eat chicken and poultry out of habit and convenience. (I also REALLY like fish and seafood.) Cooking vegetarian takes more effort, I find. But I would like to try eating vegetarian more frequently.
6. Wine at 5

Drinkers outlive nondrinkers. Two glasses of wine daily will add years to your life, especially when consumed during a plant-based meal.
Yes, except when they are alcoholics. (I felt I had to put a caveat in there.) I like drinking wine so this can be checked off. (Even though I know it can promote heart health, I'm surprised this one made the list.)
7. Family First

Living in a thriving family is worth a half a dozen extra years of life expectancy. Invest time in your kids, nurture a monogamous relationship and keep your aging parents nearby.
Absolutely. This is one of my top priorities, to the detriment of my housekeeping! But what will my kids remember when they grow up? A clean house or family memories?
8. Belong

Recommit, reconnect or explore a new faith-based community. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. People who show up to their faith community four times a week live an extra 4-14 years.
Good to know. I feel very lucky to be a member of such a wonderful, welcoming, faith-based community.

9. Right Tribe

Your friends have a long-term and measure impact on your health and longevity. Taking stock in who your friends are and expanding your social circle to include healthy-minded, supportive people might be the most powerful thing you can do to add years to your life.
I like this one. I find that my lunches out with friends are like a balm to my soul. I always wish I had more time to spend with my dear friends. I believe that being a part of at least one supportive community is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your health.

Looks like I need to work on #1, 3, 4, and 5. How about you? How many of the power nine do you follow?

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