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How Old School Dieting and Exercise Will Make You Live Longer

Updated on February 5, 2012

My 96 year-old Aunt is living proof that the old school diet and exercise will help you live longer. She doesn't exercise but she lives an active life. She could be classified as a vegetarian, but she eats meat 7% of the time during the week. She does not smoke or drink or take any prescription medicine. At her age, stress is not a factor and she deals with life by using prayer as her inspiration to live a long, fruitful life.

Seniors, who are in their 90s and above, are our guide to anti-aging and their experience should be a blueprint for all younger people to follow.


Okinawan Diet

My Aunt's diet resembles the eating habits of the people of Okinawa, an island just south of Japan. They are famous for eating a diet consisting of complex carbohydrates, 7 daily servings of vegetables, grains (rice, noodles, and bread), and fish. Meat, poultry, and eggs, are limited to 3% and fish to 10%. Included are 3-4 servings of fruit and tea.

She eats until she is about 80-90% full which is similar to the Okinawans. She does indulge in in her favorite snacks like cake or cookies, but she limits eating sweets to once a month.

In a 2001 UC-Berkeley study, Okinawa has the most centenarians than anywhere in the world. Breast cancer, prostate cancer, and obesity are unheard of on the island. Compared to Americans, Okinawans have 80% fewer heart attacks.. The ones who do suffer a heart attack are most likely to survive.

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Being Active vs Structured Exercise

Most of the "Baby boomer" generation (born 1949-1964) did not exercise and it is not an activity done by today's senior citizens. My Aunt says that she has no time to exercise because she is too busy.

Funny as it sounds, my Aunt 's activities such as gardening and housekeeping duties keep her much busier than most seniors. In addition, she does her daily walk to her niece's house (200 yards going and returning) and a trip to the market (about 300 yards each way) twice a week.

Most fitness experts believe that 30 minutes of daily exercise is enough to have a healthy lifestyle. However, there is a big difference between an individual who exercises 30 minutes but who is largely sedentary throughout the day and a person who is constantly active while doing housekeeping duties, walking, gardening, and chores. Experts agree that an active person is the best example of a healthier lifestyle than the individual who does their 30 minutes but is sitting on their butt the rest of the day.

My Aunt does not know a thing about structured exercise such as lifting weights or aerobics or weight training but her daily walk and other activities are her primary exercises and proof that staying busy helps one live longer.

Life: Stress Free

Everyone knows that stress kills and is a major contributor to illness, so how does a person live a life without stress? My Aunt lost her husband 40 years and has lived alone most of her life in her modest home. She retired 30 years ago and lives on a fixed-income. However, she credits her religion for helping her live a long life.

Studies have shown that people who are spiritual or attend religious services tend to live longer, are happier, and have lower rates of depression and anxiety. Coupled with a social network among friends and family, seniors of faith tend to be contented and healthy. In addition, previous studies reveal that churchgoers are more hopeful and have a better perspective toward life than non-churchgoing people. Furthermore, people of faith tend to shy away from risky behavior (smoking, alcohol, and drugs). Most important, religion is credited with helping people cope with stress and daily problems.

My Aunt is a big supporter of prayer which helps her cope with life and the main reason why she continues to live a long life.

Tips to Live Longer

With major advances in medicine and technology, centenarians will become a growing population in the U.S.. However, advance technology is a "two-edge sword" which makes life easier but at the same time makes people lazy.

The invention of people moving devices (escalators, automobile, and elevators) and "processed foods" has brought an increase in the obesity rate and illness. People moving devices and the automobile has taken the away the need to walk or bicycle to a nearby destination. "Processed foods" (Commercially made meats made from poultry, pork, beef and fish) contain toxic chemicals and have made people fat and unhealthy.

In order to live long, an individual has to go back to living a lifestyle before technology and processed foods came into the the picture.

People should stop watching hours of television or surfing on the net and live an active lifestyle by doing productive tasks like home improvement projects, chores, going out with friends and family, and housekeeping duties. If your destination is nearby, how about taking a walk or a bicycle ride instead of taking your car. Activities should be FUN. Sure, structured exercise of 30 minutes or more is fine but what are you going to do the rest of the day?

Eat healthy. Whether its the Okinawan diet or the Meditterean diet or other diets out there, eating healthy should be a priority. Don't eat any processed foods and cook your own food because you know what's in it.

Lastly, think spiritually or pray or think positively for a healthier, happier life.

Follow these tips and you'll know how the old school diet and exercise will help you live longer.

Secret of Long life in Okinawa

Meditteranean Diet Is Good for You

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      leslie b. ruiz 5 years ago

      Very interesting, well put-together, and simple!

      Thank you for sharing this personal, yet informative story.

      This definately makes a person think twice about how to adapt to a much healthier lifestyle & all in time for setting the New Year's resolution!

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      Chris Mack 5 years ago

      Makes total sense!!