Program Note: Tune in tonight for more on Ikaria and to hear more clues for a longer life on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/20/art.ikaria.jpg caption="The island of Ikaria, Greece, where residents may have some secrets to living longer, healthier lives."]
Forget counting calories, crunches and laps around the track. What if the secrets to a long life involved a lot less work and a much more enjoyment? Turns out, sex and sleep could be just as important to a long, healthy life as omega-3s and cardio. I know, you’re thinking, “This is too good to be true!” Followed by, “I can barely find time for the little sleep I get right now.” Stick with me – I promise it’s worth it.
All this week, we’ll help you find ways to make these simple secrets to a long life work for you. An active sex life and plenty of rest are just two reasons scientists think people on the remote Greek island of Ikaria are living longer, healthier lives. Of course, I’m guessing living on a Greek island doesn’t exactly lead to depression, but for those of us who can’t pack up and move to a Mediterranean paradise, we can reap the benefits of Ikarian culture at home.
Clearly, more time in bed is part of the equation, but it’s far from the only piece of this puzzle. People often live well into their 90’s and – perhaps most importantly - they have fewer years of disease and poor health. If you think about your friends and loved ones, many who have died in their “old age” probably weren’t in great shape those last few years. Maybe it was cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s… the list of potential health problems is endless and almost expected in the US. Rarely do we hear about people living nearly disease-free until their final days. Yet, on this 99-square mile island, people require far less medical care and tend to have more “good years”. If you’re thinking Ikarians simply hit the good gene jackpot, it’s a nice try but not that simple. Only about 20 percent of our longevity is determined by genes; the rest is up to us.
Dan Buettner, the best-selling author of "THE BLUE ZONES: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest" just named Ikaria the world’s fifth “Blue Zone.” He’s there right now to get some firm answers for us about what makes Ikarians so special, and to share those tips with us. Do sex and sleep play a big role? I’ll ask Dan tonight. In the meantime, you could always do a little research of your own – naptime, anyone?
Cast your vote here to determine where Dan and his team go next in their quest for longevity.
And are you curious about how long you’ll live? Check out Dan’s vitality compass and find out what your biological age is, how old you’ll be when disease is likely to kick in and how long you’ll most likely be on this planet.
For more information on the Blue Zones Quest, go to: http://www.aarp.org/bluezones.
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