I have a pretty bad case of existential denial. Anytime I find myself contemplating the day of my death, I start humming Pink’s “So What” to distract myself from the inevitable. If anyone’s going to make me contemplate the possibility of a long life, however, it’s the people of the Blue Zones, who just so happen to be the healthiest, longest living human beings on the planet.
Blue Zones studies the lifestyles of the longest-living people on Earth from places like Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. They’ve applied all their knowledge to the Blue Zones “True Vitality Test,” a quiz that will determine your lifespan based on your background, outlook on the world, movement patterns, diet, sense of belonging, and environment. You know: everything that’s important for living a a good life.
All in all, the True Vitality Test will take about three minutes to complete, running you through multiple choice questions like, “Over the last year, how has your health changed?” and “During the past 7 days, how many servings of fresh vegetables did you consume?” The test then takes a “10 points for Gryffindor!” approach to the scoring process. As you select an answer for each, you’ll see days either add (yay!) or subtract (boo) from the duration of your life. Then, at the end, you just plug in your email and get your score sent straight to your inbox.
When I gave it a try, the Blue Zones test penalized me 40 days of life for eating one serving of sugar a day. (I feel okay about that.) It also rewarded me 40 for not eating at fast food restaurants in the past week, and another 40 for being in a “committed and loving relationship.” As I learned when a co-worker took the test, being happily married helps your rack up 150 days. So she’ll get to live about 150 days more than me… except that she got 12 days deducted for eating five servings of meat in the last week (tough luck).
In the end, Blue Zones estimates that I’ll live about 90 years, while two of my coworkers will live to be about 92 and 94. Now that I know my place on the mortal coil (sighs dramatically), the report sent to me by the folks at Blue Zones has a few suggestions for how I can stretch out my time here on Earth. Namely, they tell me I should eat more whole grains, be friendly, and take care to check in on my mental health.
Even if you don’t necessarily take your given croaking age seriously, the recommendations (like the ones I got above) are worth a shot. They’re all backed by science and the ancient, ancient folks who inhabit the Blue Zones.