Buettner also found that community is a huge factor in the longevity of blue-zone groups. Typical Okinawans have many close friends, with whom they share everything. Sardinian highlanders have a reverence for the elderly not found in modern Western societies. The Adventists put family first.
A sense of belonging and having healthy friends and family encourage the individual to live healthily as well.
In “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell examined a group of Italians called the Rosetans, who migrated to an area west of Bangor, Pennsylvania. Across the board, they had lower incidents of heart disease and generally lived long, healthy lives. After experiments, it was determined that their secret was not genetics or even diet (41 percent of their diet came from fat).
“The Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world,” Gladwell wrote. “The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.”
In his travels, Buettner came across a common theme among blue-zone groups: None of them had the concept of retirement. As it turns out, to keep going makes it easier to keep going.
Purposeful living into the sunset years is a mantra to the Okinawans and Sardinians. In those groups, Buettner met centenarian men and women who continued to climb hills, build fences, fish, and care for great-great-great-great grandchildren.
Interestingly, none of these centenarians exercise purposely as we Westerners who go to the gym do. “They simply live active lives that warrant physical activity,” Buettner said. They all walk, cook, and do chores manually, and many of them garden.