Monday, April 2, 2012

Choose Longevity

Remember the last time you and a friend had a conversation about growing old?  Did it go something like this, “I really don’t want to live to be 100 frail, sick and suffering from dementia.”  Would you re-consider  if at 100 your mind, body and spirit were all sound?  If you had no trouble getting on a bus or shopping  for groceries or holding a conversation?
 There are places in the world where people live to be over  100 and lead vibrant, active lives and in good health,  too!  These places are called “Blue Zones”, a term originated with Dr. Dan Buettner, author of  “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”. Where they live contributes to their longevity, but it’s not so much the climate, although these are likely to be moderate to warm.  It has more to do with the culture, the way these folks live their lives.What characterizes these healthy elders?  Involvement with families, social activities and being a part of their community, a diet consisting mainly of plant food and legumes, and lastly and not least  important, they are physically active.  It sounds simple enough.   Here are some ideas for creating a regimen for people living in New York City and who want optimum health to increase their longevity.

 1) Family lives far away?   Make that weekly phone call;  spend some time listening rather than talking.  Tired of always being the one to call?  Don’t stand on ceremony.  Call anyway.Send birthday cards with little personal notes.
 2)  Buy produce at Fresh Food Markets.  Is a bunch of Swiss chard too large?  Share it with a    neighbor.  She probably will be happy to share her kale.  Select one or two meatless days a week.  Substitute beans and a tasty cream or tomato sauce with whole wheat pasta.
3) Be active with people.  Join a local chorus.  The leisure club at your house of worship welcomes new comers.  Visit the neighborhood senior center with a friend.  Visit your neighbor who is now living in a Nursing Home.
4)  Keep  your  body moving.  Join a local gym (a number are covered by insurance plans). Tune into “ Sit and Be Fit” on cable TV for chair exercises.    Watch TV marching in place behind a chair, or work out with weights while sitting.  Finally, walk, walk, walk.  Start with 20 minutes a day and gradually work up to half an hour.
The next time someone asks if you want to live to 100 years.  Consider  the possibility and what it would take to make it happen.

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