Based on research about the world's eldest, healthiest people, Dan Buettner, author of the brand-new book "The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest," distills the behaviors they share down to nine ways you can extend your years of wellness.
1) Move naturally—be active without having to think about it. Don't exercise simply for the sake of exercising; identify activities you enjoy and make them a part of your day. Some of Buettner's tips:
• Inconvenience yourself by ditching the remote control, the garage door opener, the riding lawn mower; invest in a bike, broom, rake, and snow shovel.
• Have fun moving by doing the active things you enjoy—ride a bike instead of driving, for example.
• Walk around—nearly all centenarians Buettner came across took a walk every day.
• Plant a garden, which requires low-intensity and full-range-of-motion activity.
2) Cut calories by 20 percent. "Hara hachi bi" is a reminder used by Okinawans to stop themselves from eating once their stomachs are 80 percent full. Buettner:
• Serve yourself, put the food away, then eat.
• Use smaller vessels for food; get rid of large plates, bowls, and glasses.
• Eat purposefully while sitting down—not in the car or standing in front of the refrigerator.
3) Slant toward plants—avoid meat and processed foods. No, you don't need to become a vegetarian, but do bone up on the fruits and veggies. Buettner:
• Use beans or tofu as the anchor to your meals.
• Have a 2 ounce handful of nuts daily.
4) Drink red wine—the grapes of life—in moderation. Don't let this one get out of hand. Buettner:
• Allow "happy hour" into your life.
• Keep the daily intake to two servings or less.
5) See the big picture—determine your purpose. Why do you get up in the morning? Buettner:
• Write your own personal mission statement.
• Take up a new challenge—learn a language or an instrument.
6) Down shift—take time to relieve stress. You may have to literally schedule it into your day, but relaxation is key. Buettner:
• Avoid the stress of rushing by being 15 minutes early.
• Reduce the noise by limiting time spent with the television, computer, or radio on.
7) Belong—participate in a spiritual community. Draw on the built-in weekly sessions of self-reflection and meditation. Buettner:
• Deepen your commitment to a spiritual community you already have.
• Seek out a new tradition.
8) Put loved ones first—make family a priority. Honor these people and make time for them. Buettner:
• Establish family rituals.
• Create a family shrine, or a place for family pictures and relics, that shows how you're all connected.
• Consider living in a smaller home to promote togetherness.
9) Pick the right tribe—be surrounded by those who share Blue Zone values. Get together regularly with like-minded people you trust. Buettner:
• Identify your inner circle.
• Be likable!