Times sure have changed, and not just in terms of the transition from landline to smartphone, or slate tablet to iPad. Nearly 100 years ago, the average global life expectancy was a mere 31 years old. Now, in certain countries, you’re still a youngster if you reach 80!
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Improvements in health care, safer and more sanitary living conditions, and the near-universal decline of tobacco use has resulted in longer lifespans all over the world. But in certain places, referred to as Blue Zones, celebrating your 100th birthday is not an anomaly, it’s an eventuality.
Thanks to researchers, we not only know where people are living longer, healthier lives, but why. Prepare to be surprised: longevity has less to do with luck and genetics and more to do with lifestyle, which means adopting healthy habits can create centenarians everywhere.
Tourism has transformed the sixth-smallest nation in Europe from one of its poorest countries to a contender for the world’s richest. Being a mountain principality, people walk a lot and remain physically active well into their 80s. They also don’t pay any taxes and Andorra has not experienced any warfare in over 700 years, so stress levels are probably at record lows compared to other European nations. The overall figure for life expectancy is around 82.6 years.
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Hong Kong is one of the Asian continent’s wealthiest cities, with a surging economy and extremely low rate of taxation, so citizens have more to spend on quality health care and a healthy diet. (Let’s face, it, junk food is dirt cheap.) In 2012, it was announced that Hong Kong women had an average life expectancy of nearly 87 years, surpassing Japanese women for the first time in 26 years. The national average is 83 years, which has led some campaigners to call for the end of a compulsory retirement age.
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San Marino may be the fifth smallest country in the world, but residents can anticipate a lifespan of around 83.12 years. Women born in San Marino today can expect to live to the age of 86, while men should see their 80th birthday at least. The overall longevity has been attributed to a healthy Mediterranean diet and the fact that people enjoy a comparatively laid-back lifestyle. The fact that the country has very few manual jobs may also play a part. San Marino also holds the world’s record for low rates of child mortality.
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As one of the richest places in the world, Singapore has a rock-solid economy and spends liberally on healthcare: a 2000 study found that when it came to first-rate care, Singapore’s system ranked 6th in the world. The people also consume a diet low in preservatives and rich in both nutrients and antioxidants. The result is an overall life expectancy of just over 84 years.
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Although country-based longevity lists can vary from source to source, Japan is always right up there at the top. It has one of the world’s lowest obesity rates, with less than four percent of the population being defined as overweight. Japanese dietary staples, which include green tea, seaweed, and fish, contain nutrients that help prevent heart disease and cancer. Japanese women are expected to live around 86 years, while men have a life expectancy of around 82. Overall, 84.19 years is the average: one more reason to enjoy another helping of sushi!
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