Secrets to longevity

Photo credit - Lotte Meijer via

Photo credit – Lotte Meijer via

Research shows that longevity is correlated 10% with genetic factors and 90% with lifestyle ones. What is that you have to do to live a longer life? 

Dan Buettner reports on studies with National Geographic about the longevity found in certain cultural groups. Below are some of the secrets of the lifestyles these people engage in, that result in their ages at 100+.  You can watch the presentation for yourself here.

The secrets

  1. They set up their lives so they are constantly nudged into physical activity
    That means they do exercise as part of life, not as a visit to a gym or a session on a treadmill. If they want something from the shop they walk to get it. If they bake a cake, they mix it by hand. They take walks and tend to have gardens.
  2. They take time to downshift
    They slow down for some time every day to pray or observe a stillness/spiritual ritual. Stress triggers an inflammatory response whereas slowing things down for 15 minutes a day has the opposite effect.
  3. They know their life purpose
    Research shows that people who have a clear purpose tend to live longer. In some cultures, such as the Okinawans in Japan have a word for this – ikigai.
  4. They eat and drink in moderation
    Their diets are largely plant-based. They are not vegetarians but eat lots of beans and nuts. They drink a little bit every day, but don’t hit alcohol hard. They have strategies for not eating too much. For example, they serve meals on smaller plates, and after serving the food put the remainder away.
  5. They connect with others
    They put their families first, taking care of children and ageing parents. They belong to a faith-based community, practising about 4 times a month. They also make connections with the right people – that is others who engage in these lifestyle habits. They engage with these people in similar pursuits and lifestyle habits, which helps reinforce and encourage it.

Longevity is not achieved by a short-term fix. It results from lifestyle choices and long-term friendships that are significant in both their value through human connection as well as the social value you may enjoy together.

…  your friends are long-term adventures, and therefore, perhaps the most significant thing you can do to add more years to your life, and life to your years … 
~ Dan Buettner (2009)

Do you have secrets to achieving longevity? What are your lifestyle secrets?

Source: Buettner, Dan. 2009. How to live to be 100+. September 2009

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