Live Long and Prosper

By: Joseph Manfredi, MBA | Chief Operating Officer / Senior Portfolio Manager

Living longer is a goal for many people, but living well as you age should be equally important. After all, what is the point of living until you are 100 if you cannot enjoy those extra years?

At BWFA we create detailed, customized financial plans to help our clients achieve their long-term financial goals. There are plenty of other services, including a host of “robo-advisors,” that calculate clients’ goals based on an algorithm and manage investments based on responses to online questionnaires. In contrast, at BWFA we work with each client individually to construct a financial plan based on personal short- and long-term goals. This is at the heart of the service we provide. We hope that our clients can use the advice and guidance we give to realize their ambitions for themselves and for their families.

There are countless resources available that claim to help you live longer, lose weight, get fit, make more money, and improve your life in a multitude of ways. It can be daunting to know which “answer” to turn to, and often it is easier to just maintain the status quo — keep eating the way you always have, maintain the same level of activity, and be satisfied with the job you have. But from this glut of “self-help” information, there are some basic principles that can be distilled and used as an outline to make important changes to your lifestyle that could help you enjoy an increased lifespan.

In The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer, Dan Buettner set out to learn the secrets of the world’s longest-lived people. He identified nine principles that these people from far-flung locations around the world have in common:

1. Move naturally. Guess what? The world’s longest-lived people are not doing CrossFit. Instead, Buettner says, they move naturally in response to their environments. They grow their food in gardens and do not rely on mechanical aids to accomplish tasks around the house. They walk to work or to visit friends. A Western lifestyle might make it difficult to follow this principle, but it is something to keep in mind the next time you are deciding whether to take the elevator or the stairs.

2. Purpose. Why do you get up in the morning? Those who can answer that question, live longer. (Hint: The answer should not be “to go to work.”) Research backs up the idea that those who have a sense of purpose in their lives can add up to seven extra years of life expectancy.

3. Downshift. Chronic stress leads to inflammation, and inflammation is associated with every major age-related disease. The solution? Find a way to decompress, even for a few minutes a day. Meditate. Take a nap. Take a walk (see #1).

4. Eighty percent rule. “Clean your plate” is a common mandate in American households. And in recent years, huge restaurant portions make that mantra especially dangerous. Buettner recommends adopting the principle practiced by residents of Okinawa: stop eating when you are 80 percent full. What is more, he says that managing a healthy weight could be easier if you eat your smallest meal in the late afternoon or evening — pretty much the opposite of what most Americans practice.

5. Plant slant. Most people who live to 100 eat beans — a lot of beans. Fava, black, soy, and lentil beans are the cornerstones of their diets. When they eat meat (usually pork), it is only about once a week and then only in small portions.

6. Wine @ 5. All of the people who Buettner observed and spoke with drink alcohol moderately and regularly. The key, he says, is to drink just one or two glasses a day with friends and/or with food.

7. Right tribe. Social circles support healthy behaviors and lead to longer lives. Bad habits, as well as good ones, are contagious. Find a committed group of friends who practice healthy habits, and all of you will live longer.

8. Community. Belonging to a faithbased community seems to extend life expectancy. Buettner points to research that shows attending any faith-based service weekly adds 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.

9. Loved ones first. Put family first. The longest-lived people keep their aging parents and grandparents close by, which also affects the health of their children. They commit to a life partner and invest in their children.

We hope you will think about ways to increase your quality of life and to add fulfilling years to your life expectancy. Please contact us if you would like BWFA to help you create a solid financial plan to fund those years.