Remember those “death countdown” clocks that the Internet loved in the early aughts, where you would enter your birthday and they’d tell you exactly when you were going to die? Well, consider this the grown-up, science-supported version of that.
Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner—who has spent his career studying the longest-living people on the planet from places like Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Nicoya, Costa Rica—has used his research to put together a series of questions that can help determine life expectancy… and the results are enlightening, to say the least. A few determining factors? What you eat (ideally a whole lot of vegetables); how much you move (at least 45 minutes per day); and whether you surround yourself with the right kind of people (hi, friends!).
“I’m a big believer that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It’s true for your finances, and it’s true for longevity,” Buettner told a group of editors at an event this morning celebrating his partnership with Degree’s Made to Move campaign, which is committed to helping people all over the country take a page from the Blue Zones and start moving more.
Then, he asked us these eight research-backed questions to determine—within a 10 percent margin of error—how long we were going to live:
- Do you sleep at least 7.5 hours most nights?
- Do you move at least 45 minutes a day? (It doesn’t have to be at the gym, it can be just walking back and forth to work.)
- Do you eat three honest servings of vegetables every day? (No, French fries don’t count.)
- Have you never had unprotected sex with a stranger?
- Do you belong to a faith, and show up to the place of worship at least four times per month?
- Do you have at least three friends who meet the following criteria?
- You can have a meaningful conversation with them
- You can call them on a bad day and they’ll care
- You actually like them
- Have you not smoked in the last five years?
- Do you have the health and the desire to live to at least age 89? (Fun Fact: This one is actually the biggest determining factor in how long you’ll live.)
And here’s what the answers mean, based on a 20-year-old respondent:
- If you answered “yes” to two questions: Women, 81 years old; Men, 81 years old
- If you answered “yes” to five questions: Women, 86 years old; Men, 82 years old
- If you answered “yes” to seven questions: Women, 84 years old; Men, 93 years old
If you’re not thrilled with your answer (ICYWW, I got “86”), it’s not all bad news: There are a few Blue Zone-approved tweaks you can make to your lifestyle that could help add some time to that ticking time clock. Grow your own garden to ensure fresh veggies on the reg, schedule weekly walks or hikes with your friends (+1 if you use them to have “meaningful conversations”), and—my personal favorite—get a dog, which will inevitably force you to move more and make a dozen of the next 65 years a lot more fun.
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