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Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 12, 2024 ·  3 min read

9 Habits of The Longest-Living People In The World

Humans have pursued longevity in life for centuries. Recent studies on populations in the Blue Zones—regions where people live exceptionally long lives—have provided valuable insights in this area. These zones include Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. Here are ten habits shared by the longest-living people in these regions, as revealed through extensive research and observations.

1. Move

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No, not moving into one of the Blue Zones. One of the most common habits among the world’s longest-lived people is natural physical movement. Instead of taking part in structured exercise routines, they integrate physical activity into their daily lives. This includes gardening, walking, and doing household chores manually.1 For example, Okinawans spend time in their gardens, and Sardinians walk up and down their mountainous terrain regularly.

Read More: Woman Lost 100lbs Following 5 Simple Habits

2. Go For More Plants

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A diet rich in plant-based foods is common among the longest-living people. They consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, and meat is eaten sparingly.2 For example, Sardinians enjoy minestrone soup made from garden vegetables, and Okinawans eat tofu and sweet potatoes regularly.

3. Have a Community

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Belonging to a community or having a strong social network is crucial. Almost all centenarians in Blue Zones are part of a close-knit community that meets regularly. For instance, Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda gather frequently for worship and social activities, which contributes to their extended longevity.

Read More: Neuroscientists Warn of “Cascading” Alzheimer’s Risk From These Two Habits

4. Have a Sense of Purpose

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Knowing your purpose, or “ikigai” in Okinawa and “plan de vida” in Nicoya, can add up to seven years to your life. Having a reason to get up in the morning, whether it’s family, work, or a personal passion, provides motivation and a sense of fulfillment, which can significantly impact longevity. The longest-living people are the ones who have an idea with what they want to do with their extra years.

5. Stay Social

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Maintaining healthy social networks is essential for longevity. In Okinawa, people form “moais,” groups of five friends that support each other throughout life.3 Research shows that social connections can improve overall health, reduce stress, and increase lifespan.

6. Hara Hachi Bu

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Many long-lived people practice mindful eating. The 80% rule, or “hara hachi bu” in Okinawa, encourages stopping eating when you are 80% full. This habit helps prevent overeating and supports maintaining a healthy weight. And if your body is working 20% less at every meal, it’s going to add up.

7. Family

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Family is a priority for the longest-lived people. They keep aging parents and grandparents close, often in the same household, which has been shown to increase life expectancy and lower disease rates among children. This practice fosters a strong support system and ensures intergenerational care and companionship.

8. Learn to Relieve Stress

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Stress is a significant contributor to chronic diseases. The world’s longest-living people have routines that help them manage stress. This includes praying, napping, and socializing. Ikarians, for instance, take afternoon naps, while Sardinians enjoy happy hours with friends.

9. Engage in Lifelong Learning

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Staying mentally active is another common trait among centenarians. Lifelong learning, whether through reading, puzzles, or other intellectual activities, helps keep the mind sharp and reduces the risk of cognitive decline.4 Many of the longest-living people engage in hobbies and activities that challenge their brains daily.

Conclusion

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The habits of the world’s longest-living people are deeply rooted in their cultures and lifestyles. By incorporating some of these practices into our own lives, we can improve our health and potentially increase our lifespan. 

The Blue Zones offer valuable lessons on longevity that go beyond diet and exercise. They highlight the importance of a holistic approach to health that includes social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Adopting these habits can help us lead healthier, more fulfilling lives and perhaps join the ranks of the world’s centenarians.

Read More: 8 Habits to Help Slow Biological Aging

Sources

  1. I talked to 263 of the world’s longest-living people—their 9 ‘non-negotiables’ for a long, happy life.” CNBC. Dan Buettner. November 24, 2023
  2. 7 habits to live a healthier life, inspired by the world’s longest-lived communities.” NPR.
    Allison Aubrey. January 1, 2024.
  3. Habits to Form Now for a Longer Life.” Healthline. Alina Petre, MS, RD (NL). December 5, 2023
  4. 6 habits the longest-living people have in common.” Business Insider. Rebecca Harrington. January 26, 2016.