Wayfinder 87 / The Keys to Longevity

In the Blue Zones documentary on Netflix, one of the correlations to longevity observed across several of the communities researched was steepness. In such that centenarians lived in areas which required them to walk and hike up steep pitches. I have certainly felt stronger in the legs and core when we've lived in areas that promote hiking or trail running with greater elevation gains per workout or session.

Susan and I are considering this now as we contemplate another move. Can we live somewhere that allows us to more easily get elevation gains in our running and cycling? And, can we live somewhere that promotes more walking for errands like grocery shopping (farmer carries) and trips to the library (rucksacking)?

And doing this to develop habits, or create environments for ourselves, to better maintain strength, balance and mobility as we get older. — Paul

Wayfinder is our bimonthly newsletter with insights that help you adventure better, live essentially, and age awesome (formerly Dirty Good Co.). Thank you for joining us.

Outside offers a quick view at the life of Dan Buettner, a National Geographic author and happiness lifestyle researcher.

The keys to longevity, according to Dan Buettner, as summed up in this article are move naturally, eat wisely, connect with community, and have a positive outlook. Dan gives his personal applications of the lifestyle principles he's uncovered on his expeditions. Two insights that resonated with me this week were his take on work...

“One could argue that I work all the time or that I screw off all the time. It depends on how you define work. If work is defined by something you don’t like to do, then I work one hour a day. If it’s defined as engaging the brain and moving a goal forward, then I work 12 hours a day. I usually write all morning until noon. Those are my sharpest hours.”

and habits...

“I don’t believe in habits. They almost always fail. If you want to live longer, work better, and be happier, either change your environment or shape your environment in permanent ways that set up nudges to help you do the right thing rather than the wrong.”
Life Tips from Happiness Expert Dan Buettner
The National Geographic fellow on what he’s learned from spending time with the happiest people on earth

In the New York Times Opinion column, Pagan Kennedy compiled some interesting facts on the longevity of many scientists, and advocates, of various diets for prolonging life. While much of the research showed positive effects in lab animals, many of the human counterparts adopting the same longevity strategies died of various diseases in their 60's and 70's.

"It’s the decisions that we make as a collective that matter more than any choice we make on our own."

She ends her piece by making a case that we should spend more time concerned with environmental and public health issues and not competing to see who can live longer. Changes in the best interest of all tend to be those that impact our longevity most.

Wellness tip

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” —Thich Nhat Hanh 

When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, indecisive and anxious - as I do all too frequently - take a few minutes of thoughtful breath to help reset. Breathe through your nose and simply practice making your exhale longer than your inhale. You can try this count, or just whatever works for you in the moment:

  • Inhale 1-2-3-4 and hold briefly at the top
  • Exhale 6-5-4-3-2-1 and hold briefly at the bottom
  • Try 10 rounds of this.

You can close your eyes but sometimes I find that actually creates more tension in my face, so I like to just soften my forehead and eyes. Exhalation through the nose stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, signaling our body and mind to “rest and digest.” If this feels comfortable, you can elongate the counts even more, so long as you don’t feel yourself start panicking. — Susan

Quote to ponder

The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully. — Seneca