There are benefits we gain as the years add on; we get wiser, experience more, and live fuller lives. However, some people worry about approaching life’s end or being less capable. People’s intrigue and worry regarding aging, doesn’t only refer to physical appearance. Everyone wants to stay strong and healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. They want to live long rich lives. So how do we increase longevity?


Yes, healthy balanced diets and exercise contribute to a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle decreases our risk of illness and disease which would keep us alive longer, right? Looking at studies that examine the longest lived cultures around the world, we can see that they don’t eat processed foods and live relatively active lifestyles. Understandable. Yes, the type of foods they eat vary between cultures, but still include lots of fruits and vegetables. Although, there’s one interesting factor to their longevity: their lives are focused on meaningful social relationships and purposeful living.


These relationships provide a balance of emotional support, as well as stimulation, challenge, and social engagement. These people live for a greater purpose beyond their own survival and achievements. For example, in Japan/Okinawa, life expectancy is much higher than anywhere else on earth, about a decade longer than Americans. They have an impressive number of centenarians living one years and over. Contributing to longevity in this culture is the value of “Ikigai,” which means “life purpose.” Okinawans and Japanese focus their lives around purposeful living, making healthier and wiser choices that shape their daily lives and activities. They only surround themselves with social relationships that align with their purpose, providing support, stimulation, and a deep connection. They are motivated and supported in life.


How does this make a difference in longevity? One reason is that people have a clear sense of purpose which helps them to be more resilient to temporary feelings of frustration, discomfort, sadness, and anger. Even if things are challenging, they get through it knowing they’re “doing good” for society.

There’s also been evidence of living a social and meaningful life as being physiologically healthy as well. Research shows that older people who volunteer have lower levels of inflammation (which is known to cause chronic illnesses). Again, by volunteering, they’re adding purpose, meaning, and social connection to their lives. When we are emotionally supported and mentally stimulated, our bodies build resiliency to support us in our purpose.


The takeaway from all this is, in addition to a healthy diet and active lifestyle, find purpose and meaning in everything you do, as well as make connections with good people. If this is something you want in your life but struggle to find it, please contact Crownview Medical Center. A wellness professional will help you find more meaning in your life.