On average, how long we live is less than 25 percent dictated by our genes and more than 75 percent dictated by our lifestyle. Author and explorer Dan Buettner interviewed more than 200 of the oldest people in the world and learned from them what he calls the Power Nine, some simple and effective lessons that we can implement in our own lives.
Nine Lifestyle Secrets
1. Be active without having to think about it. Inconvenience yourself. Take the stairs, hide your remote control, get rid of your gas lawn mower and replace it with a push-one.
2. Take time to see the big picture. Craft a personal mission statement, find a partner, and learn something new.
3. Take time to relieve stress. Reduce the noise, be early (it'll save you the stress of rushing and give you time to prepare and get centered), and meditate.
4. Stop eating before you're stuffed. Make food look bigger by using smaller plates. Also, make snacking a hassle and eat more slowly.
5. Avoid meat and processed foods. Eat four to six vegetable servings a day, showcase fruits and vegetables, lead with beans, and eat nuts every day, which can add three years to your life expectancy.
6. Drink red wine in moderation. Treat yourself to a Happy Hour that includes a glass of wine with nuts, a gathering of friends, or time with a spouse. But two servings of red wine a day are the most you need to drink to take advantage of its health benefits. Overdoing it negates any benefits you might enjoy.
7. Make family a priority. Get closer and consider living in a smaller house to create an environment of togetherness. Establish family rituals, or create a family shrine of photographs to show how you're connected to each other.
8. Participate in a spiritual community. Be more involved in your religious community or explore a new tradition. Ninety-eight percent of the people interviewed believed in God. Also, seemingly trite things like going to church and paying attention to family have a bigger effect on our life expectancy than anything you can get from a bottle.
9. Surround yourself with friends who share "Blue Zones" values. Be likable -- it'll afford you a social network and frequent visitors. Identify your inner circle and create time together. Find friends who are in shape and have some sort of spiritual component -- their behaviors will rub off on you. Who you hang out with can have more of an effect than any diet.
Special thanks to Dan Buettner for sharing the secrets behind longevity and to National Geographic Books for giving everyone in our studio audience a copy of his new book, "The Blue Zone."