The good news is that we are living longer than ever before. The advances of modern medicine have allowed the average lifespan to increase by over 10 years compared to 1960. The question is…are we living well. Take a look at this curve. The blue line represents the traditional and ancient wisdom of aging. It tends to not have people live as long, but people traditionally have a better quality of life. The red curve represents the western approach, where people live longer, but end up with chronic disease starting in their 40’s. The green curve represents blending these 2 worlds together, in a concept people call ‘squaring the curve’.
I had the unfortunate luck of losing all of my grandparents at a young age. My Nana passed away when she was around 75, and the others were much before her. My other personal frame of reference for aging adults were those that were living with chronic disease, or unable to maintain the quality of life they hoped.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Sanie. The farm where I ride, runs a horse show every year which requires officials like stewards, judges and course designers. The steward is essentially the rule enforcer, making sure that all of the riders have numbers, horses have passports that are up to date and dealing with conflict. Our regular steward was unable to make it, so we hired Sanie.
Not only did Sanie pull up in her red sports car, after driving herself to the show but she worked at the show all 3 days at times putting in over a 12 hour day. She walked around on uneven ground, climbed in and out of trailers, did math in her head, dealt with problems, and literally sprinted to the barn to beat the rain storm. And guess what…she is 83!
She made me forget her age since she was as spry and energetic as anyone else at the show! She still works 8-10 shows per year, and loves every minute of it.
WOW! I still can’t stop thinking about her. What an inspiration. Sometimes in the day to day struggle of life we lose sight of the bigger picture of why we are making choices. These choices to keep us healthy can sometimes be hard, but they are going to give you the best chance of aging with grace, and living a vibrant life to the very end.
Blue Zones are places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives.
Here are 5 Lessons from the Blue Zones, where the average age is 100 and people are living well into their later years.
- Eat a Mediterranean Diet
- Move, and find pleasure in the movement that you are doing
- Take a nap. People living in the Blue Zones on average nap for about 30min 5x/week. It has been reported that this practice can cut your risk of heart disease in 1/3.
- Get connected with people, and find a community
- Find a purpose
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Thank you Sanie, for being an inspiration and giving me a lovely reminder of why I am choosing to live well!