Okinawans stay active

The people of Okinawa, an island a thousand miles south of Japan’s main landmass, are known for their longevity.  This Pacific archipelago has been referred to by early Chinese expeditions as the land of the immortals.

Nine lessons from the Okinawans Buettner believes help them live long, happy lives:

  • Stay active-Older Okinawans are active walkers and gardeners. Residents take meals and relax sitting on tatami mats on the floor.  Getting up and down off the floor several dozen times daily builds lower body strength and balance, which help protect against dangerous falls.
  • Get gardening-It is a source of daily physical activity that exercises the body with a wide range of motion and helps to reduce stress.  It is also a near-constant source of fresh vegetables.
  • Embrace an ikigai-An ikigai is one’s reason for being, or one’s purpose in life. Older Okinawans can readily articulate the reason they get up in the morning.
  • Rely on a plant-based diet-Older Okinawans have eaten a plant-based diet most of their lives.
  • Eat more soy-The Okinawan diet is rich foods made with soy, like tofu and miso soup. Flavonoids in tofu may help protect the heart and guard against breast cancer.
  • Maintain a moai-The Okinawan tradition of forming a moai, or a gathering of people, provides secure social networks.
  • Enjoy the sunshine-Spending time outside each day produces optimal vitamin D levels and promotes stronger bones and healthier bodies.
  • Plant a medical garden-Mugwort, ginger, and turmeric are all staples of an Okinawan garden, and all have proven medicinal qualities.
  • Have an attitude-A hardship-tempered attitude has endowed Okinawans with an affable smugness. They’re able to let difficult early years remain in the past while they enjoy today’s simple pleasures. They’ve learned to be likable and to keep younger people in their company well into their old age.

Dan Buettner from  7/7/14, These People Live Longer Than Anyone. Here are 9 Things They Do.

I need to stay active for both my physical and mental health.  Walking and hiking are two of my favorite ways to stay active.  I recently had the chance to do some mountain hiking on new trails with elevation gains that got my heart rate up and prepared my legs for snowshoeing and skiing this winter.


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