Rachel Page

The keys to a long and healthy life

July 22, 2021

Because the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are about to start I have been thinking about Japan and what we might be able to learn from the Japanese way of life.  

Okinawa in the south of Japan is home to one of the societies around the world renowned for having a healthy population, having the world's longest life expectancy and the world’s healthiest elderly population.  

So why is this? Well, there are lots of things that together make for a healthy lifestyle.

  • Their diet is largely plant-based, rich in colourful vegetables with fermented soy or tofu and some oily fish. They limit the amount of sugar and refined foods they eat. 
  • They eat until they are 80% full and then stop.
  • They remain active throughout their lives, including by gardening, where they grow their own vegetables
  • They have a purpose in life, a reason to get up in the morning, known as ikigai.  For some people this can be spiritual but it doesn’t need to be.
  • They have a strong social network, whom they can rely on for support, known as moai.  In Okinawa these are lifelong friends but it can be any close bond.

Incorporating some of these into our own lives might be a way to not only live longer but to make sure those years are healthy ones too.

So maybe take inspiration from the Olympians to be more Okinawan: set a target to aim for to give you 'ikigai' or get active by trying a new sport. You never know what you might achieve.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

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