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The World’s Oldest Woman Reveals Her Secrets To Long Life

The World’s Oldest Woman Reveals Her Secrets To Long Life

Misao Okawa, until April 1, 2015, when she passed away peacefully in her sleep from heart failure at age 117, was the world’s oldest woman. She was born on March 5, 1898 and lived in Osaka Japan. When asked about her secret to long life, she replied that she ate delicious food.

Perhaps the most obvious factor contributing to a long life is good nutrition, but there must be a combination of things that will promote a long and healthy life. Perhaps Misao Okawa embodied the perfect combination of excellent genetics coupled with behavior and lifestyle, which contributed to her long life. In fact, it is widely known that the Japanese generally have long lives that are often relatively healthy. There are a number of factors which contribute to why the Japanese have such longevity, including healthy diets, an equal and cohesive society combining both traditional and ancient customs with ultra-modern lifestyle, values, and technology. They have universal health care and the people tend to look after one another, especially within families, where the younger generation will care for the aged.

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Here are some of the secrets that may have contributed to Misao Okawa’s very long life.

Diet

Misao Okawa was quoted as saying that her main secret to a long life was “eating delicious things,” including beef, noodles, and rice. It is widely recognized that the Japanese diet, consisting mostly of fish, rice, fruit, and vegetables is not only delicious, but incredibly healthy. Nutritionist blogger Catherine Saxelby says:

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“The traditional Japanese diet, with its emphasis on vegetables, seafood, soy, clear broth, rice, green tea and seaweed, is a semi-vegetarian diet with less fat, less sugar and more antioxidants…

In the midst of a global obesity epidemic, the Japanese have the lowest obesity rates in the developed world, as well as lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and some (but not all) cancers.” Catherine Saxelby.

Rest

Misao Okawa once told interviewers that sleeping and relaxing were important to living a long life. Countless studies have shown that insomnia and sleep disturbance accelerates as we age. Learning to relax by having long, restful, and quality sleep allows the body and mind to function optimally. Sleep improves your heart health and reduces the risk of heart attack. It boosts your immune system, improves your memory, lowers your risk of stroke, makes you happier and reduces depression, as well as a number of other health benefits. Rest is a huge contributing factor to a long life.

Exercise

Japanese people stay active. Radio Calisthenics (Taiso) has been practiced in Japan for decades. Basic stretching and movement exercises are broadcast widely, accompanied by piano music, and as much as 20% of the population, regardless of age, participates first thing in the morning. It happens in workplaces, schools, and in the community, and is a great way for people to keep fit. Exercise is a very important factor in maintaining health of the body and mind and living a long life.

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Moderate alcohol consumption

Surprisingly, moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages does have some health benefits. In Japan, people drink Sake, which is fermented rice wine. Perhaps balancing the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption is a factor in having a long life.

Universal health care

In Japan, whether you are employed, unemployed, or retired, you are covered by one of the tiers of health insurance. It ensures equality of access, which means nobody will ever be denied health care, regardless of their age, income, or location. Japan’s spending on health care is around half of that of US expenditures on public or private health care. It demonstrates that the universal health care system in the long run ensures people need it less.

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Social equality and cohesion

Japanese society is made up of both ancient and traditional customs, intersected with ultra-modern and technologically advanced culture. In an article about longevity in Japan, Jamie Anders discusses the research conducted by Shiro Horiuchi that outlines the way in which Japanese people value group cohesion and community spirit. He argues that they have high self esteem and therefore better health because they value a sense of belonging and a strong group orientation. In this vein, they work together to live longer lives.

Featured photo credit: immortal.org via immortal.org

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Diane Koopman

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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