These places on Earth are home to the world's oldest, healthiest people
By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
In select regions of the world, people live long enough to make some wonder if these countries have discovered the heavily sought-after fountain of youth.
"Maintaining youthful, radiant health is possible, and many cultures today prove it with citizens who live extraordinarily long lives," said author Susan Shumsky, whose publication, "Ascension," explores longevity.
For the first time in history, most people can expect to live into their 60s and beyond, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The number of people living past 60 is expected to double by 2050, the WHO revealed.
The longevity of some cultures boils down to factors including more relaxed and active lifestyles as well as healthy diets. Political stability, economic success, access to modern healthcare and good sanitation can also contribute, according to Global Citizen.
In addition, warmer climates might allow people to live longer, according to some studies. Stanford University researchers found that warmer conditions over a period of time in the United States lowered the mortality rates, compared to the winter months, when the death rates peaked.
Ocean proximity might also offer health benefits. A study from the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health showed that people living near the coast tended to have better overall health than people living inland.
The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) World Factbook lists life expectancies at birth for more than 100 countries, which measure the overall quality of life in a country.
Below are five countries where people people tend to live longer.
As the second-smallest country in the world, Monaco has the longest life expectancy on Earth at 89.4 years, according to the World Factbook. The Western European country borders the Mediterranean Sea on France's southern coast.
The longer life expectancy could be attributed to factors including its state-funded healthcare system, a healthy Mediterranean diet and less stressful lifestyles.
The World Factbook lists Japan as one of the longest-living countries, with an average life expectancy of 85.3 years. Japanese people are able to live 75 of their years completely healthy and without disabilities, according to the WHO.
Some factors that might contribute to the island nation's longevity are healthy diets, regular physical activity and extended work years, according to AARP. A study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College showed that working past the retirement years could add time to a person's life.
Singaporeans can anticipate living an average of 85.2 years. It has been reported that better efforts being put into early prevention and detection of chronic illness have made a significant impact on the longevity of those living in this southeast Asian country.
4. San Marino
People living in the European country of San Marino can live an average of 83.3 years, according to the World Factbook. Their long lives could be due to their healthy Mediterranean diets of fresh and locally grown foods, high employment rates and low-stress lifestyles.
Icelandic people have a life expectancy of 83.1 years, which could largely be due to their fish-heavy diet containing omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to heart health, according to experts. Some believe genetic factors also play a role.
Places with the oldest-living people on Earth
In addition to countries with overall high life expectancies, some areas are home to the highest number of centenarians on Earth.
"In all of these remarkable cultures, the elderly possess the keys to longevity—purposefulness, belonging and happiness," Shumsky said. "They continue to work, contribute to society and exercise vigorously."
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Other qualities include living in extended families and prioritizing social interactions, maintaining low-fat diets with high complex carbohydrates, drinking water with high mineral content, growing their own food and living easygoing lifestyles, Shumsky added.
At least five areas on Earth have been officially identified as "blue zones," where people live the longest and healthiest lives. The are Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California; Ikaria, Greece; and Sardinia, Italy.
According to a study from researchers at Loma Linda University, the key to living a long life lies in behaviors started as young children. The study took a look at seniors and centenarians in North America’s only blue zone.
Findings showed that regardless of types of hardship, healthy habits developed as children relating to diet, exercise, spirituality, charity and relationships helped them lead long, healthy lives.
“These findings provide a solid foundation for early-life health promotion to help alleviate the burden of chronic disease and enable a collaborative movement toward a more resilient country of wellness and longevity,” said Rhonda Spencer-Hwang, DrPH, MPH, associate professor for the Center for Community Resilience at Loma Linda University School of Public Health.
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