Health and Healthcare Systems

What are the secrets to a long, healthy life? 10 stories to read

A healthy lifestyle could increase life expectancy.

A healthy lifestyle could increase life expectancy. Image: Unsplash/Jaddy Liu

Tom Crowfoot
Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • This round-up explores 10 articles on living a long and healthy life and how the habits you adopt can influence your wellbeing and life expectancy.
  • From finding your 'ikigai' to being more optimistic, these essential reads might just help you live a healthier life.

1. Want to live a long, healthy life? 6 secrets from Japan’s oldest people

Okinawa, a Japanese archipelago, is one of the world’s five 'Blue Zones', where there are high concentrations of centenarians. So what can they teach us about living longer?

One tip tp lead a long and healthy life from the Okinawan centenarians is 'ikigai', a Japanese word for a sense of purpose.
One tip tp lead a long and healthy life from the Okinawan centenarians is 'ikigai', a Japanese word for a sense of purpose. Image: Okinawa Centenarian Study

One tip is to find your ‘ikigai’ which is the Japanese word for a sense of purpose. This can be anything from taking up a hobby to practising your faith. Another tip is to rethink your relationship with time by slowing down and not rushing, firm in the knowledge that you will complete your tasks eventually.

Find out the other 4 secrets to longevity from the Okinawans.

2. Lessons from the world's Blue Zones on living a long, healthy life

Dan Buettner, author of various books about the world's Blue Zones, shares what he has learned about people who live longer and healthier lives. :

1. They move naturally - walking, gardening and doing housework.

2. They take time to down-shift - stress-relieving rituals should be part of any daily routine, from praying to napping.

3. They observe the 80% rule - stop eating when your stomach is 80% full and eat your smallest meal in the early evening.

4. They're in the right tribe - build a strong social network with as many close friends as possible.

Discover what else the Blue Zones can teach us about longevity.

3. Women are more likely to live past 90 if they’re optimistic, according to a new study

A study by Harvard University found that optimistic women have a lifespan 5.4% longer than those with a negative outlook, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Optimism may be an important asset to consider for promoting health and longevity in diverse populations,” the researchers explained.

Read more about the power of optimism.

4. The route to longer life? 30 minutes a week of muscle-strengthening exercises, new study says

Doing muscle-strengthening exercises — anything from carrying heavy shopping bags to lifting weights — for 30 to 60 minutes every week can reduce your risk of dying from causes such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, according to a new study.

A graphic detailing the UK Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines in 2019 for leading a healthy life.
Just half an hour of muscle-strengthening activities a week can cut your risk of death from all causes by up to a fifth, and lead to a long and healthy life. Image: UK Chief Medical Officers Physical Activity Guidelines 2019

If these activities are done weekly, researchers in Japan suggest that our mortality risk can fall by as much as 10-20%.

Explore how else regular muscle-strengthening exercises can help you live longer.

5. Doing housework could cut your risk of developing dementia, according to a new study

New research has found that frequent exercise, including performing household chores, lowers dementia risk. In the study, those who frequently exercised had a 35% lower risk of dementia.

Learn more about lowering your risk of dementia.


What is the World Economic Forum doing to combat Alzheimer's?

6. Here's what young people think is key to a long and fulfilled life

Our global population is ageing, with children born today in a middle-high-income country having more than a 50% chance of living to be over 105. Yet long life doesn't equate to a better life. Members of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community (all under the age of 30) were asked to provide insights. Here's what they said:

  • Kasley Killam wants us to embrace 'social health', because people with strong social relationships have a 50% increased likelihood of living longer.
  • Dhiren Govender says we should say no to things that no longer serve to enhance our happiness.

Explore how else the Forum's Global Shapers Community think we can achieve long, fulfilling lives.

7. You can live up to 10 years longer by doing these 5 things

A 20-year study of more than 111,000 people found that a healthy lifestyle could increase life expectancy free from three common chronic diseases by up to 10 years for women and seven years for men. So which healthy habits did they identify?

1. Don't smoke

2. Moderate alcohol intake

3. Maintain a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9.

Read more to find out the two other healthy habits.

8. Living on purpose: Finding personal and professional meaning in the pursuit of well-being

Liz Hilton Segel, Global Leader at McKinsey & Company, explores how maintaining purpose in your life and career can affect your wellbeing.

McKinsey research found that tapping into a deeper purpose can unlock greater engagement, productivity and overall happiness. When someone doesn’t find that sense of purpose in their job, they are more likely to leave their role.

Meaningful work is a critical aspect of a fulfilling and healthy life, but it’s far from the full picture.
Meaningful work is a critical aspect of a fulfilling and healthy life, but it’s far from the full picture. Image: McKinsey & Partners

Discover more about the power of purpose.

9. The 100-year life is here. How can we meet the challenges of longevity? An expert explains

Martha Deevy, Director at the Stanford Center on Longevity, explains why and how we need to start redesigning institutions and practices to align with today's increased longevity of life.

Have you read?

The global reductions in infant mortality and increased access to sanitation and medicine have helped the world population live longer - but policies and social norms haven't evolved as fast. So what can be done about it?

Learn more about how we can meet the challenges of longevity.

10. These 7 simple habits could halve your risk of dementia

Researchers have found that 7 healthy habits can stop up to 43% of people developing the condition, even for those whose genes put them at increased risk.

These habits include: monitoring your blood pressure, reducing your sugar intake and taking regular exercise.

Find out more about how to lower your risk of dementia.

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