Just what makes the people on the island of Ikaria live longer?
There are so many contributing factors, but the ones we learned most about on Tour of Beauty are as follows!
- Eat a mediteranean diet – lots of olive oil, wild greens, vegetables, a moderate amount of red wine, and just a little meat. For Georgios and Eleni and their family, meat was eaten only on special occasions.
Exercise. Where you can incorporate it into your daily life. We didn’t see any gyms on Ikaria (although there may be some!) but the locals exercised just by going about their daily existence – walking the steeps hills of the area, collecting greens in the paddocks behind their properties, herding goats for milking and so on!
Walking through the steep Ikarian countryside
keeps the locals fit!
- Plenty of rest. Perhaps easier said than done for many of us! But alot of the Ikarian island inhabitants wake naturally (as in no alarm clocks) and take a nap in the afternoon.
- Stay busy and have a purpose. No matter what your age, having a purpose and some “work” seemed important on Ikaria. Well into their 80s, 90s and beyond, Ikarians tend to jobs like gardening, bee keeping and goat milking. While these jobs may not be paid as such, the sense of purpose they provide is said to play a part in longevity.
Community. Even the very old stay engaged in the community mixing with family and friends of all ages. We saw this at the Paniyiri festival where there seemed to be no barrier between ages, 5 year olds, 15 year old, 50 years old and 80 year olds at the same table sharing a laugh, a meal, and a dance.
Rachel and the locals dancing at Paniyiri Festival