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What is the secret to a long, healthy and beautiful life? Act like you live in Italy, Greece, California, Japan or Costa Rica. These places have communities — known as Blue Zones — with a high percentage of centenarians living healthy and active lives.

National Geographic explorer, Dan Buettner traveled across the globe to uncover the secrets of longevity. He found it is deeply intertwined with lifestyle, diet, outlook and stress-coping practices. He shares his findings in his book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.”

Following are common behaviors of Blue Zone populations for a long, healthy life.

– The world’s longest-lived people do not think of exercise as a chore. They tend to incorporate regular, low-intensity physical activity into their everyday lives, such as walking with friends or gardening. As noted in the book, “French Women Don’t get Fat” in France (and all the Blue Zones) walking is a main means of transportation.

– The Mediterranean Diet. A diet rich in good fats (olive oil, nuts), fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and a moderate amount of wine has been linked to a longer, healthy life. It is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, as well as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

– Portion Control. In Okinawa, the people eat until they feel 80% full, a practice called hara hachi bu.

– A sense of community and connection. In Blue Zones like Okinawa, people have a strong, social-support network and family bond. They also wake up each day with a purpose in life. The sense of belonging and purpose matters for lowering stress, disease prevention and longevity.

– Manage stress. The word’s healthiest people have effective ways to cope and shed daily stress in their lives. This is closely tied to their belief in a spiritual lifestyle, which may include meditation, as well as their support networks.

A long, healthy life may begin with good genes although longevity depends on good habits and behaviors. Therefore, for a long life filled with strength, vitality and happiness, enjoy healthy foods, keep yourself moving and stay connected with others.

As an added bonus, not only will you feel younger inside, you will look years younger on the outside!

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