Blue Zones – The Benefit of Prioritising Movement Over Hard Physical Excercise

Do you exercise regularly?

Do you run endless hours on a treadmill to create a healthier body and a longer life?

What I’m about to share with you may shock you.

I wouldn’t advise canceling your gym membership as a result, but I’d love you to consider prioritising movement over hard physical exercise following this post.

Let me explain.

Let’s talk about Blue Zones.

Blue Zones are areas throughout the world in which people live statistically longer.

Five regions have been identified as Blue Zones and include:

  • Okinawa (Japan)
  • Sardinia (Italy)
  • Nicoya (Costa Rica)
  • Icaria (Greece)
  • Loma Linda (amongst the Seventh Day Adventists, California)

The most interesting and probably shocking discovery was that people in Blue Zones do not exercise.

They don’t go to the gym.

They don’t actively seek to raise their heart rate.

They don’t prioritise hard physical exercise.

They don’t try to extend their lives.

They move. Simple as.

They live in environments in which encourage them to move every 20 mins or so.

They own gardens and water, weed, nurture and harvest.

Houses in Icaria in Greece only have hand tools. They need bread by hand. They need to walk to shops. They are regularly experiencing ‘mindless movement’ which is a common factor within all Blue Zones.

It’s also been discovered that people in Blue Zones primarily eat a plant-based diet which includes greens, nuts and beans.

It’s been suggested that eating 1 cup of beans a day adds 4 years to your life expectancy!

Community spirit also appears to contribute towards a longer life.

Men in Sardinia regularly meet in the street in the afternoon to talk and laugh with each other.

Laughter reduces stress which then lowers the risk of cardiovascular problems and disease.

These findings are a reminder of what we really need to do to live a long, healthy and happy life.

In the world of Neuro Linguistic Programming we often recommend ‘modelling’.

This simply means finding someone who has got what you want and do what they did to get it.

Why not ‘model’ the habitants of Blue Zones and do more of what they do?

Making a few small changes could increase your health and your happiness.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Start introducing more plant-based meals. Start by having 1 ‘meat free’ day a week. Increase this gradually as you discover more healthy plant-based meals. And eat more beans!
  • Eat a handful of nuts every day. For women at risk of heart disease, one study revealed that eating nuts five or more days a week cut their risk of a heart attack nearly in half. Another study involving both sexes found that people who doubled their intake of nuts to an ounce (a handful) cut their risk of stroke in half. Walnuts, in particular, seem to have extraordinary health benefits. Eating more than 3 servings of walnuts a week will cut your risk of dying from cancer in half.
  • Prioritise ‘mindless movement’ over-exercise, forever. Mindless movement can include walking, gardening, and housework. Seek activities that include different ranges of movement. Vacuuming the floor and then cob-webs from the ceiling will encourage you to use many different muscles! Or why not increase the time that you spend playing with children which will also create more laughter! Ensure that you move your body every 20 minutes. For those seeking retirement ensure that you don’t spend your days sitting around; you will be shortening your life. Seek an active retirement.
  • Seek to be active in your community. Prioritise social connection. Making time for cuppas and chats may well help you avoid having to create time for doctor and hospital appointments later on. Social connection is very, very important and has proven to relate strongly to longevity.
  • Ensure that you get sufficient sleep. People who live in Blue Zones get plenty of sleep and often take daytime naps. A number of studies have shown that not getting enough ‘shut-eye’ significantly increases the risk of death. Prioritise a good night’s sleep!

Making a few small changes to your lifestyle now will have a huge impact on your life in the future.

We all have the ability to ‘think and act more blue”. Why not start today?

(P.S. I’m just off to the supermarket to grab some walnuts)

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