April Jeppson: Do you want to live to 100 — and with quality?

Published 8:45 pm Friday, September 1, 2023

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson

I don’t get a lot of alone time. I really don’t get a lot of alone TV time. We only have two televisions in our home, one in our family room and the other is downstairs. The basement TV is hooked up to a 20-year-old Xbox that my husband enjoys playing with our children. Having only one screen to watch in a family of five, we are usually trying to find programming that everyone can agree on.

When the stars align and I wake up early or the rest of the family is in a heated battle of Shrek Party, I get control of the remote. I gravitate toward female centered comedies like “The Mindy Project” or documentaries like “The Chef Show.” This week a new documentary was released on Netflix, “Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones,” and I was excited to find time to watch it.

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When I moved to Albert Lea in 2012, I heard the phrase Blue Zones often. It came up when people would mention the walking paths or abundance of playgrounds. At restaurants I would see stickers on doors and on the lower-calorie menu items. I knew it had something to do with being healthy but didn’t really understand what it meant until a few years ago.

I’ve since read the book and scrolled through the websites. I understand the concept and I’ve bought into the research. Like Dan, the guy who compiled all the research, I, too, am fascinated by the idea that we have an impact on how long we will live. Not just how long we live, but the quality of life up until those final years. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not live to 100 if the last 20 years I’m stuck in a hospital bed.

As I’m watching this program, I am in awe of the people featured. A man in his 90s who can stand up and sit cross legged with ease. I watch as he squats down for a considerable amount of time, his posture reminding me of my children when they are about 2 or 3 years old. I’m not sure if I know a single person my own age who has the flexibility and balance of the man on the screen.

Dan interviews people from villages in Japan, Costa Rica and Italy. All of these people have different diets and daily routines, but they are all healthy right up until the end. People in these Blue Zone regions not just live longer, but they live better. Besides having a large number of centenarians, people in these areas remain active into their 80s and 90s and do not suffer from the chronic diseases common in most parts of the industrialized world. There are some commonalities between the five areas that he visits and this becomes the basis for his book.

At one point during the documentary I’m wondering if I should get rid of all the seating areas in my home so that I’m forced to get up and down more like the people in Okinawa. During a pasta-making scene, I’m reminded that I know how to make bread and pasta from scratch and I should probably start doing that again. Better yet, I should find some good quality wheat and grind my own flour. I also need to purchase some more raw honey.

In that last paragraph, I’m pretty sure I’ll only do the final thing. That’s OK though, it’s one step in the right direction. I also plan on putting together my standing desk today so that I don’t sit so much. So I guess that’s two things. I think that’s a good start.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.