These days we’re almost no longer amazed to read or see news that someone from Asia has beaten another record for age, and that their birthday cake has more than a hundred candles on it… but it’s interesting to think, “how do they do it?” In this article we’ll reveal why the Japanese live longer how we can learn from their teachings to make our lives longer and healthier.
The Japanese live longer because of their lifestyle
In Japan (more precisely on the Okinawa Island) there are some of the oldest women in the world. There the rate of obesity is an eighth that of industrialised countries, like the United States, and cardiovascular illnesses are a rarity.
Life expectancy for the Japanese is about 92 years, but many of them live longer than this. And the best is that they live healthily. Although one of the reasons for this is genetic, it’s also to be sure that some credit must be given to their daily habits.
If you’ve not been blessed with Asian genes then don’t worry, you can still adopt a similar lifestyle and enjoy the benefits.
Why do the Japanese live longer?
Did you know that the average person in Japan goes to the doctor once a month? This doesn’t mean that they’re hypochondriacs, nor that they love medical exams, but that they’re worried about their health and they trust in preventative treatments. This is just one habit for a longer life. Some others include:
1. Eat an “almost” vegetarian diet
The majority of people who live in Japanese villages (not as many as in the cities base their diet on fruits, vegetables, and cereals. Occasionally, they add a little fish or red meat that they save for special occasions. A typical lunch is high in nutrients and low in calories: sautéed vegetables with tofu, sweet potatoes, and soy sauce.
They also don’t consume so many dairy products as we do in the west. They add brown rice to many small dishes (it’s a great source of protein) and some seaweed for extra taste.
As far as drinks go, green tea makes up a large part of their diet. The Japanese drink a number of cups of tea between morning and night (the same as other countries with coffee). This tea is rich in antioxidants and good for the digestive system.
They also tend to cycle much more, as much in the cities as the countryside. In Japan cars are considered luxury items and a waste of time due to the enormous population. On public transport, like the metro or the train, you´ll see many passengers with bicycles.
Furthermore, when they have to run errands, go to the doctor, or go to school, they choose to walk instead of using their own vehicle. There are so many benefits to this habit, above all, the benefits for your cardiovascular system. Walking helps prevent heart attacks and improves your respiratory system.
3. They enjoy the fresh air
It doesn’t matter how much space or time they make to carry out their obligations; you’ll always see the Japanese caring for their plants and flowers. Their gardens may be small, but they are well looked after. There are also people who plant aromatic species, or small vegetables on their balcony.
It´s normal that on nice days in Spring or in Summer, the Japanese do exercise in the many public parks. They enjoy spending time in the fresh air, maybe because their houses are small, or maybe to make the most of the sunlight. This last point alone is good, as they can get vitamin D and absorb calcium.
As you can see, the Japanese are very active, even after retirement. They can do many activities, and age is no impediment for enjoying them.
4. They spend a lot of time with family
Amongst all the habits for living longer, we also have to mention habits that are good for your spirit, soul, or nervous system. Family is the most important thing for them and when a person gets older their eldest child takes responsibility for their care.
Grandparents spend a lot of time with their grandchildren, since older people are considered a great source of knowledge and experience. Without a doubt, this is a good reason for them to feel useful, since they’re even doing something important at home in teaching something to the little ones.
5. They don’t live too fast
Of course, in the great cities of Japan this doesn’t always apply. Those that live and work in the metropolis carry on at a much faster pace. However, they also take time for meditation or practicing relaxation techniques such as Tai Chi.
It’s normal to see people in public places doing some style of rhythmic or relaxing “dance”. This puts them back in touch with their roots and helps them to forget stress.
These are some reasons why the Japanese live longer and which it’s possible to adopt no matter where you live.