When it comes to living a long life, nobody in the world does it quite like the Japanese. For years now, Japanese people have been the longest-living nationality. Women live to an average age of 87 years, while men live to a hearty age of 81.
The numbers from this small island nation are astounding and it’s even more impressive considering they’re among the heaviest smokers on the planet with 36 percent of the country indulging in tobacco. The U.S., by comparison, only has a 17 percent smoking rate.
So how do the Japanese live so long? There are a number of factors contributing to their longevity. One of those factors is genetics, but there are several other ways to learn from the Japanese and improve your health and live longer.
Japanese people might smoke a lot but they make up for it with lots of daily exercise. This exercise isn’t necessarily done by pumping iron at the gym or going to Zumba class regularly. Instead, this exercise is ingrained in the culture and an everyday part of life. It starts at a young age, where 98 percent of children walk or bicycle to school, according to the World Health Organization.
Staying active is a habit that stays into adulthood, as obesity and its related health problems are uncommon in Japan. The national obesity rate is a mere 3.5 percent, compared to the U.S.’s 30 percent obesity rate.
The staple of a Japanese diet is fish and studies have shown that there are a number of health benefits to regular consumption. Fish is eaten regularly, and the red meats popular in many other countries are far less common in Japan. Of course, there are problems with eating fish (like too much mercury), but the lack of cholesterol seems to have tremendous health benefits.
Keep Calories Down
Even though fish is an important component of the Japanese healthy eating habits there are also other significant parts of the diet. Dairy is rarely eaten. Instead, lots of vegetables, rice and herbal teas make up a large portion of the menu. Of course, there are decadently fried foods like tempura but those aren’t usually eaten as often as the healthier (and cheaper) alternatives.
Stay Active After Retirement
The Japanese defy typical life expectancy despite the incredible amounts of stress they experience in their professional lives. Studies differ, but it’s widely conceded that Japan is one of the most stressed workforces around.
Despite that high stress, many retirement-age workers decide to keep working. It’s not because they need the money. In many cases, it’s simply because they find the work rewarding and stimulating. The retirement age is fairly low at 60, but government statistics show that 1 in 5 people older than 65 are employed. That sense of purpose seems to pay off in a person’s later years.
Enroll in Insurance
There’s lots of talk about how the Japanese manage to live so long, but one of the main reasons is obvious. The country has affordable universal healthcare that’s available to everyone. No system is perfect and without its problems but the Japanese style of healthcare is largely considered a net positive when it comes to keeping its people healthy.
The Japanese system goes to show how important it is to be covered under proper health insurance. Consider investing as much as you can afford to ensure you receive decent care.
Live Long Like the Japanese
There’s not only one reason why the Japanese have a longer life expectancy than any other nation. Instead, it’s a number of lifestyle choices that seem to pay off in the later years. Adopting some of these features into your own life could bring you similar benefits.