11 more habits for a healthier, happier life

‘Blue Zones’ expert Tony Buettner to speak at Go Confidently on June 18

This content was originally published on BlueZones.com. Published here courtesy of Blue Zones and Tony Buettner.

From our research in the healthiest and happiest places in the world, here are some habits to take up in 2018 —they’ll enrich your life and boost your health and happiness levels too.

Don’t try all of the things below at one time. Choose a few, make them habits, and revisit when they’re part of your daily routine.

Move more

Moving naturally throughout the day — walking, gardening, doing housework — is a core part of the Blue Zones lifestyle. A day of sitting down — at work, in your car, on your couch — can’t be fixed by spending 30 minutes in the gym. So get up and move throughout the day, taking frequent stretch breaks, choosing the stairs over the elevator, and 5- to 10-minute walks throughout the day.

Get out, every day

Even if you work from home or are caring for young children or family members at home, make a point to get out as much as you can.

Eat more veggies!

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and veggies a day can lower your risk of premature death by a whopping 42 percent.

Eat less meat and dairy

Study authors found that substituting 3 percent of daily calories from animal protein with plant protein was associated with a lower risk for death from all causes — a 34 percent drop when participants swapped out processed red meat for plant protein, and a 19 percent decrease when they replaced eggs.

There is considerable scientific evidence that healthy dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower Alzheimer’s risk and slower cognitive decline. The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, beans, fruit, and nuts, and low in meat and dairy.

Nurture your religion or spirituality

In all Blue Zones regions, centenarians were part of a religious community.

“People who pay attention to their spiritual side have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, depression, stress, and suicide, and their immune systems seem to work better … To a certain extent, adherence to a religion allows them to relinquish the stresses of everyday life to a higher power.” –Dan Buettner

Get involved in your community

Join a local group or volunteer in your community. The happiest cities have high community engagement and environments that foster social connections.

“Belong” is one of the Blue Zones Power 9, the lifestyle habits shared by the longest-lived people on earth.

Volunteer more

People who volunteer tend to lose weight, have lower rates of heart disease and report higher levels of happiness. Decide what you do best and volunteer your time. Make a point of signing up this month. People who find meaningful ways to give back are also happier.

Make new friends

Make a new happy friend — that’s one of the best things you can do to boost your happiness level. Your happiness will go up by 15 percent. How to do this? See the above three habits.

Enjoy your meals, but stop eating before you’re stuffed

Seniors in the Blue Zones region of Okinawa, Japan, eat until they’re 80 percent full, a practice and phrase called hara hachi bu. This healthy practice of calorie restriction and mindful eating promotes health and longevity.

Make Sunday a meal-plan, meal-prep, meal-making day

Cook a big batch of something healthy that you can use for several lunches and dinners for the week ahead. Use the day to cut up veggies and have them ready to go as snacks and sides. Try the Blue Zones Meal Planner if you’re looking for a digital tool to help you along the way.

Sign up to be an organ donor

There isn’t a more powerful few minutes than signing up to be an organ donor. You never have to lift a finger. It is the laziest, most excellent good deed that you can do that will give you a happiness boost.

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