While there is at least one scientific study that shows Canadians live longer and have healthier lives than our American neighbors, there’s one group of Americans that are outliving everybody. The residents of Loma Linda, located in southwestern San Bernardino County in the state of California, routinely live well into their late 90’s and 100-year birthdays are not uncommon. The best part of the resident’s story is that they aren’t just living longer, they are living healthier without reliance on medication or suffering disabilities.
A Canadian born in 2009 has a life expectancy of 81 years, vs. 78 years for an American born the same year.
Lifestyle and Staying Young
Although Californians are commonly thought to be health-conscious, the twenty-four thousand plus residents of Loma Linda take healthy living to a whole new level. Consider their lifestyle:
- Smoking is banned in the town.
- The largest grocery store in town does not sell meat.
- Alcohol is available, but you must make an effort to find it.
- Most restaurants are vegetarian.
- Fast food restaurants are few and far between.
By now you’re wondering what motivates the residents of Loma Linda to place so much weight on health? The answer is that Loma Lina is home to one of the largest concentrations of Seventh-day Adventists in the world. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a conservative Protestant Christian denomination that considers the human body and soul to be one.
Treating your body like a temple appears to increase to increase longevity by as much as 10 years.
While the Seventh-Day Adventists, like Jews and Muslims, stay away from foods that the Bible deems impure, like pork, most also practice strict vegetarianism. In Loma Linda vegetarianism is so popular that most restaurants, including fast-food restaurants, feature a vegetarian menu in addition to regular menu items.
A healthy lifestyle, including vegetarianism is a key tenet of the faith.
Staying Active & Involved
While the Seventh-Day Adventists enjoy the health benefits of a healthy diet, they also focus on being physically active and involved in their community. In the articles we researched, there were numerous anecdotes of people in their late 90’s exercising on a regular basis by walking a half mile or more at a time. Participation in organized sports, running clubs, exercise classes and outdoor activities such as hiking were the norm for all ages. If that wasn’t enough, the fitness center at the Loma Linda University campus offers free exercise programs and diet counselling for anyone in the community to attend. The strong sense of community is reinforced with an emphasis on volunteering and being active in the church and related activities.
The Bottom Line
The population of Loma Linda have created an environment that fosters a healthy diet, regular daily exercise, and a lifestyle that includes family and meaning. The net result, longevity with vitality, is a goal than we can achieve for ourselves with self control and perseverance.
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