We are living longer, but are we living healthier and happier ? As I’m slowly stepping towards my 50’s, I realize our western society cultivates a deep fear of ageing. Over the last decades, chronic dis-ease rates are increasing at the same rate as happiness is decreasing. If the desire for a long, healthy and happy life is universal, I meet countless of women in my practice that are worried about moving forward in life.
Our busy society has forgotten simple physiological, mental and cultural behaviors that promote healthy happy longevity. The synergy of these elemental behaviors create health, wellness and happiness long term. In the coming 3 articles, I will share with you simple habits you can set up right now so you dance, laugh and shine on your 97th birthday.
Centenarian islands, a source of inspiration
Okinawa, a group of Japanese islands, is where longevity is the highest in the world. This is where ageing goes hand in hand with vitality and happiness. In Okinawa, a big party is traditionally organised for your 97th birthday. The entire community is invited to vividly celebrate the celebrant, dance and sing. A big contrast with our formal birthdays, that become solemn and make you feel old as you add years on.
Such a difference in the perception of ageing, longevity, health and happiness fits in one word = vitality. The culture, care and belief around vitality.
 Okinawans’ birthday celebrations are tied to zodiac’s 12-year cycle, beginning with the 13th (12+1) birthday and reaching a climax with the 97th (12×8+1). In the cyclical spirit of this journey, celebrants are given colourful pinwheels and encouraged to sing and dance.
Part 1 – Move more
You have heard it countless of time: physical activity is key for health & wellness. However, we now have to make a concerted effort to move our body and make our body move. Most centenarians around the globe naturally practice intense daily physical activity. Often born in a society without cars, they walk long distance every day, garden for their subsistence and usually had manual occupation that make them work hard all their life.
So moving is not solely about a good workout or fitness. In the Western world we want to do everything we can within a small time frame to make up for our long sedentary time. We use exercise as a substitute for the activity we lack on a normal day. While scheduling regular exercise sessions is great, it doesn’t counteract sedentary behavior day in and day out.
Healthy longevity relies on any form of movement that accumulates throughout the day, called incidental activity or non-exercise physical activity (NEPA). The kind of activity that doesn’t happen at the gym, but instead, relies on your daily choices.
The purpose is to maintain good physical and mental health to interact healthily with your environment. So you move forward in life gracefully and full of vitality.
MAKE IT TO YOUR LIFE, DON’T ADD IT TO YOUR LIFE
Incorporate movement into your life to promote healthy happy longevity and optimal health
- Stand more often at work, bend forward regularly,
- Move while watching TV,
- Walk instead of driving,
- Play with the kids, garden,
- Go out at lunch time,
- Combine high intensity exercise with micro movement you can perform hour by hour.
Think about any opportunities you can incorporate movement into your life for healthy happy longevity and optimal health…. and don’t forget to have fun