If you were to visit the Barbagia region of central Sardinia, there are a couple of things you would notice.
Firstly, there are no gym memberships, people taking daily runs or counting their calories. The locals aren't up to date with the latest training programs and they don't subscribe to any of the latest diets that many of us swear by.
You'd also notice the number of old, healthy and happy locals living in the area. That's because this part of the country contains ten times the amount of centenarians per capita than the United States.
That's a lot of 100 year olds.
They're obviously doing something right.
In his book 'The Blue Zones', Dan Beuttner travels around the world with a research team to find out what the oldest and healthiest people on the planet are doing so well. This is what he noticed about this region of Sardinia.
- Diet - There is a real plant slant to the Sardinian diet. They eat a lot of fruit and vegetables that are grown locally, whole-grain bread and beans. When they do eat meat, it's on a Sunday or for a special occasion.
- Exercise - There are no gut-wrenching workouts taking place. Instead, the high percentage of shepherds in the area means that many are waling 5 miles or more each day, which provides great cardiovascular benefits, but doesn't comes with all the jarring to the joints and bones that you'd expect from long distance running.
- Wine – The one or two glasses of Cannonau wine that Sardinian's drink daily is know for its high level of artery-scrubbing flavonoids in comparison to other wines. It's also considered an explanation as to why lower levels of stress may exist in the area.
- Family- Elderly are not thrown into an old persons home to live out their last years. In fact, hey are celebrated. Grand parents are looked after by the family and regularly provide childcare, financial support and wisdom and motivation to the young children to support their growth.
- Laughter - The locals in this area are known for their sardonic sense of humour. Most afternoons the men in this area meet up in the local streets to talk and laugh together. Laughter also doubles as a release to stress and plays a part in reducing cardiovascular disease.
If you'd like more insight into the oldest, healthiest people on the planet, this is a great article.