How to live a longer, higher-quality life

While there’s no magic formula to living a longer life, there are some factors that really do make a difference.

Dr. Christian Furman, a geriatrician with UofL Physicians, studies aging. She says research shows there are clear lifestyles that lead to more years.

The National Institute on Aging recently identified blue zones, or areas where people are living much longer, higher-quality lives. Those included Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, and a Seventh Day Adventist group in Loma Linda, Calif.

Furman says those people put their family first, have an active social network and have a purpose in life – every day finding a reason to live for tomorrow.

Furman has studied the research on blue zones and said what people are doing there is simple: They are staying connected to other people, friends – family and even strangers. In short, they have a connection.

“You don’t really give up if you have friends and family,” she said. “You are accountable to and look forward to seeing tomorrow.”

Doctors are finding, from the blue zones and in other research, that those living the longest tend to have a strong social support system, are engaged outside of the house and often do volunteer work.

A calm disposition and high level of spirituality also can lead to a more quality life, along with healthy eating and getting plenty of exercise. Not getting enough fruits, vegetables and exercise can really hurt your health, as can stress and inconsistent sleep, Dr. Furman said.

She believes people should start thinking about the research starting in their 30s, 40s and even 50s.

If you can start early, “it makes a big difference,” she said.