Longest living people in the world all swear by important ‘Power 9’ ruleox

By Staff 9 Min Read

Have you ever wondered what the secret to long life is? Who better to ask than the longest living people in the world? According to research, they have nine things in common

We know improving our diets and exercising can help us live longer, but apparently we should also be sticking to a set of rules known as the ‘Power nine’.

Thanks to improved working conditions, less smoking and improved healthcare, people are living longer. Life expectancy at birth in the UK in 2020 to 2022 was 78.6 years for males, and 82.6 for females.

There are many things we can do to improve our chances, from making sure we drink eight glasses of water a day, eating a balanced diet, exercising, quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol, according to the NHS.

But when it comes to living longer, who better to go to for advice than the longest living people in the world? In the world’s Blue Zones, regions where people live exceptionally long lives, they are 10 times more likely to live to 100, compared to other parts of the Western world. The Barbagia region of Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Costa Rica and Icaria in Greece, are all packed with people who live past 100, also known as centenarians.

In fact, there are also four places in the UK that are Blue Zones, where people live longer than the average – Bournemouth, Bognor Regis, Exmouth and Axminister. But what is their secret to long life?

Medical researchers, demographers, epidemiologists and anthropologists have looked into this subject to find out what all these places have in common – and it turns out they all swear by a collection of rules known as the ‘Power 9’. The nine pillars which these are based on are listed below:

Moving throughout the day

Sedentary behaviour, like sitting for 13 hours a day, or walking less than 4,000 steps a day, can reduce the metabolic benefits of acute exercise, according to studies. So small movements throughout the day can be more beneficial than just going to the gym in the evening, if you’ve been sitting all day.

Dr Kien Vuu, founder of Vuu MC Performance and Longevity, explained to GQ that this can be as simple as doing leg lifts or stretches at your desk. Just a few minutes of activity can break up sedentary behaviour.

Having a glass of wine with friends

This one might be counter-intuitive – but it turns out there could be benefits to drinking alcohol – but not necessarily from the beverage itself. “In longevity cultures, moderate alcohol consumption often occurs in a social context, emphasizing the role of community and celebration,” Dr Vuu said.

According to the expert, this is believed to be less about the alcohol itself, but more about having positive relationships, which contribute to emotional well-being. Any excuse to enjoy a glass of wine with friends is fine with us.

Taking time to relax

Stress is never good for you, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. That’s why Dr Michelle Loy, an integrative medicine specialist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, recommends taking a deep breath, holding for a few seconds, and breathing out slowly through your nose, if you notice your body tensing and emotions rising. Speaking to GQ, she recommends practicing the breathing technique anywhere at any time.

Eating mostly plant-based diets

According to the research done on Blue Zones, those who eat a mostly plant-based diet, especially sources of protein like beans and lentils over meat, tend to live longer. If you do opt for food, experts recommend opting for a three-to-four-ounce serving of pork.

Having a number of close friends

The experts also believe there is “extreme power within connection and friendship,” which is why positive social interactions are so important. According to Dr Vuu, these have been shown to boost oxytocin, which is known as the love hormone.

Eating the smallest meal in the late afternoon

It’s bad news for those who like to enjoy three hearty meals a day, as those in the Blue Zones tend to eat their smallest meal late in the afternoon or early evening – and then refrain from eating the rest of the day.

This is known as the 80% rule, which means they stop eating when they are 80% full.

Putting loved-ones first

It turns out having friends isn’t enough, as those who live past 100 also tend to have good relationship with their aging parents. If they have children, they also make an effort to spend time with them.

Having faith or a place where you feel accepted

According to research, those who attend a faith-based service four times per month live on average 14 years longer. However, if you’re not religious, there are other things you can do to find a place you belong. The expters recommend joining a regular exercise class at the gym, or doing a weekly quiz at a nearby pub.

Finding purpose

Knowing your purpose in day-to-day life can add on average seven years to your life expectancy, according to research. Dr Loy recommends asking yourself these questions, and filling them out, as this could give you purpose.

  • What do I love? (Passion)
  • What am I good at? (Profession)
  • What does the world need? (Mission)
  • What can I be compensated for? (Vocation)

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