The Okinawan lifestyle promotes longevity and healthy aging that can be easily adopted by anyone, no matter where you’re stationed.
Some of the oldest Japanese people on the island have lived up to be 99 years old or more, which says a lot about the short life expectancy in other parts of the world. This comes from a study of over 1,000 Okinawan centenarians conducted by the Okinawa Centenarian Study research group.
We’ll never quite know the exact secret of how the Okinawans live to be in the triple digits, but there are some undeniable common traits found around the island that contribute to their healthy, long-lived lifestyle.
The good news is that you can implement all of Okinawa’s habits into your own daily routine, wherever the military decides to send you. You will need to be persistent and intentional about making health-conscious decisions. To help you get on your way to a healthy lifestyle, here are some common Okinawan traits to live by.
Food on the island is always served with a good portion of vegetables, light salt, few calories and small quantities of pork or fish fat. Fast-food joints are also not common around Okinawa. You will usually find sit-down restaurants in every nook and cranny of the island serving nutritional meals. When you eat, make sure to be intentional. Try finding a balance while eating in moderation, and incorporate whole foods like greens, nuts and soy into your diet.
Watch your stress.
Easier said than done, but one of the secrets to a long life is the ability to stay away from stress. The people in Okinawa are a lot more relaxed when it comes to driving on freeways or expressways. In fact, there is no sense of road rage anywhere in sight when on the island. They also make it a point to sneak in a nap whenever they can, even if it is at a local park or at the mall. Try to be mindful throughout your day by checking in with yourself to make sure that you are not overly stressed or tired, and maybe even try to sneak in a nap like Okinawans.
On the island, you can find tons of activities that not only get you up and moving, but will also help improve your overall body health. It is common to see locals engaging in daily activities such as Tai Chi to improve flexibility, Gat ball to help hand eye coordination, dance classes to help with range of motion or even weaving fabrics for creativity. The point of staying active is to help keep your mind alert with motions. Try finding an activity that will get your body moving while keeping your mind alert.
Sense of purpose.
This might just be the most important factor to living a long, healthy life. Everything you do in life needs to have an intention, and help add a purpose to your life. The Okinawans call this “Ikigai,” also known as “a sense of purpose, meaning and a feeling of well-being.” At your duty station, try choosing activities that will provide you with the same sense of purpose, so you can carry that on throughout your life.
These secrets are the key factors that, if applied, can promote a healthy lifestyle. If you find yourself living in an environment that does not promote healthy eating or healthy activities, try thinking outside the box and create your own ideal environment, and live the Okinawan way.
Catherine Edoria-Dela Cruz is a mother to two beautiful outgoing little girls, and a proud Air Force spouse. She is California bred and currently stationed in Japan. You can find her soaking up Okinawa’s beautiful views, venturing every little crevice on the island and stuffing her face with their yummy food! When she’s not exploring or taking care of her mommy duties, you can find her writing content for her blog Love Always, Catherine, where she shares tips, advice and stories with military spouses and parents.