“The Blue Zones, Second Edition” book review

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Is there a recipe to live past 100, and at the same time have a good quality of life?

That’s what Dan Bruettner tries to investigate in his book entitled “The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”.

With his team, Dan went to Barbagia in Sardinia (Italy), Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California, United States), Nicoya (Costa Rica). These have relatively a high percentage of centenarians, and low occurrences of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or COPD. Dan interviewed them on their diet, daily lifestyle, social networks and various habits. His findings are then discussed with doctors and health experts.

So how do you live a good life past 100?

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Can Religion Make You Healthier?

Religion might add years to your life.

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Let’s make it clear. Religion is responsible for dozens of millions of death, from the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades and the calls for jihad. And that’s just the tip of iceberg. A wrong gesture or sentence can get you killed or your hand chopped off in a few countries.

Religion can definitively bring the worst of humans out.

Many of us are also put off by the official dogma. It’s hard to reconcile evolution theory (or physics) with religion. Or the ideals of democracy with the autocracy that many religions promote.

Yet, religion seems also to have a curative effect. A 2003 study shows church attendance lowers by 25% risk of mortality. Researchers have found that weekly attendance at religious services is associated with 2 to 3 additional years of life expectancy. In another study, women aged 50 and up were 20% less likely to die in any given year if they attended religious services weekly.

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Bigger is not always better

Endurance athletes with small and lean bodies have higher life expectancy than bigger power athletes

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Mo Farah (left) runs longer. Usain Bolt (right) runs faster. Compare their body shape. Who is better?

Bigger is popular. It’s synonymous to growth, speed and winning. It leads legions of men, and women, to gyms and crossfit centers to increase muscles and chest size. Compared to endurance, strength training is naturally more sexy.

When compared to a sedentary lifestyle, strength training is indeed a good choice. Yet, it appears that endurance training leads to higher longevity.

A Finnish research shows endurance athletes (long distance running, cross country skiiing) had higher life expectancy (avg 75.6 years) than team sports athletes (avg 73.9) or power athletes (avg 71.9). All had higher life expectancy than sedentary population (avg 69.9).

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