I just read an incredible article in the New York Times Magazine about the elderly inhabitants of a small Greek island called Ikaria who, “forget to die.” Okay, they don’t actually forget to die, but statistics have shown one out of three people in Ikaria live until their late nineties. After learning more about their lifestyle choices and impeccable natural diets I became inspired. Actually, it was more like humbled. Taking daily naps, not using clocks, and drinking red wine with every meal; the culture on this island seems more akin to utopia than part of the EU.
While I pride myself on my ability to fit in with the fast moving city slickers of New York City, this article left me yearning for a simpler life filled with late night games of dominoes and my own personal vegetable garden. Sure, I love the hustle and bustle and high energy that seems to radiate off my city’s sidewalks, yet every once in awhile I find myself retreating into Central Park for a check-in with mother nature. It’s not that I’m unhappy here, it’s quite the contrary. I love my adventurous life and all the excitement it contains; I just worry about the long-term effects poor air quality and over crowdedness may have on my lifespan. Moreover, I sometimes fantasize about shutting off my phone and becoming unplugged from society for good. (Is that bad?)
Apparently Ikaria, Greece is known to the scientific community as a “Blue Zone” or an area of the world where people live measurably longer lives. When I googled “top blue zones in the world,” New York didn’t even make the list! The bluest areas (aside from Ikaria, Greece) are:
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Loma Linda, California
Barbagia region of Sardinia
***If you want to grow up to be a guaranteed happy, satisfied, nonagenarian or a person who in their nineties, you should probably move to one of these locations.***
According to the article, the success of these communities’ longevity can be directly attributed to their close knit existences. No one relies on clocks because the community doesn’t put any value on time. “For people to adopt a healthful lifestyle…they need to live in an ecosystem, so to speak, that makes it possible.”
When I was in college the acceptable behavior was to go to class in your pajama pants. (I mean, I never did, but I know people who did.) Anyway, everyone wore their PJs in public because it was a supported and accepted wardrobe choice. Could you imagine if my college culture revolved around healthy eating and exercise? I know for certain my “Freshman fifteen” would’ve been a “Freshman Negative Fifteen.”
Ikaria, Greece truly sounds like heaven on earth. I don’t actually plan to move there (language barrier and all), I wonder if it’s possible to create an Ikaria in my own life? Surround myself with more like-minded health conscious people and create a routine that elongates my life.
How is your health routine affecting your lifespan? Do you belong to a community that encourages wellness and healthy living?
Andrea Macy is a writer/performer/zumba enthusiast/amateur cook/ wannabe vegan/marketing whiz based in NYC. Follow her daily quest for inner-balance and peace on twitter @andrea_macy