This is great news, and also a big responsibility! After reading the Blue Zones books last year, I learned that thriving in later years depends largely on the physical, mental, and social habits we practice today and everyday. In other words: it starts now. When I think of thriving, at any age, I think of my friend Ms. Darlene. Darlene is the real deal. Beautiful, bursting with energy and an inner light that you cannot ignore. She is a model, actress, radio personality, cancer survivor, and all-around connoisseur of living.
1. Stay active. Darlene finds a way to move every single day. She goes to her gym 3-5 times a week and walks or exercises at home when she can’t make it out. “They closed my gym last week because of the cold, so guess what? I bundled up and went for a walk. I love the cold!”
Moving every day doesn’t have to be marathon-level training or power yoga, it’s about incorporating sustainable, natural exercise into daily activities. Things like gardening, cleaning your floors, and walking to a neighbor’s house can be done for a lifetime, and it’s these activities that are keeping centenarians healthy all over the world.
2. Retire from your retirement. Although she is technically retired, Darlene cannot imagine spending a day on the couch watching TV. She continues to go on radio and television auditions, and she owns a playwriting business called PLAYWRITE. She says the best part of retirement is getting to pick and choose only the projects that inspire her. Countless research studies have confirmed that people who have a purpose each day, whether its a job, volunteer work, or caring for children, have healthier minds and maintain healthier bodies.
3. Eat your veggies. Darlene credits her phenomenal health to her diet, which is mostly vegetables and free from red meat or pork. While working as a model, she ate this way to maintain a certain weight, but she kept these eating habits long after her peak modeling years ended. Plant-based eating is the diet of the longest living people across the globe, who consume about 95% plants and save the meat mostly for celebratory occasions.
4. Break down generation silos. Darlene loves to babysit. It keeps her mind sharp and body moving. She also makes a point to develop friendships with people of all ages, especially younger people who can keep up with her! Inter-generational living fights social isolation, high blood pressure, and even dementia. Recent research has even shown that younger people who regularly engage with older people reap similar mental and physical health benefits, both immediate and long term.
Darlene calls herself "blessed", but it's clear that she works hard-and smart- to keep herself in good health, both mentally and physically. The good news is that there is no elusive Fountain of Youth. The “secrets” are simple. No matter your age, you can start now toward better health in your later years. Wishing you health, prosperity, and limitless joy this New Year and many years to come!
Heimlich, R. (2010, December 28). Baby Boomers Retire. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2010/12/29/baby-boomers-retire/
Research Suggests a Positive Correlation between Social Interaction and Health. (n.d.). https://www.nia.nih.gov/about/living-long-well-21st-century-strategic-directions-research-aging/research-suggests-positive