This sponsored post is produced in association with Humana.
Many of us would like to reach an old age without being troubled by disease. How far can healthy habits take us? If you look at the lifestyle of people that get really old – and stay fit and relatively healthy — they have certain healthy practices in common. And there are ways technology can help integrate those practices into our everyday lives.
A Blue Zone is a demographic or geographic area where people live longer. Much longer. Many become 100+ years, and remain in good health. These longevity hotspots are found in certain towns in Japan, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Greece, and California. The populations in Blue Zones share a number of lifestyle characteristics: they exercise constantly at a moderate level, they smoke less, and are semi-vegetarians with a diet rich in vegetables. The longevity champions are also family oriented, and lead an active social life.
If the Blue Zone lifestyle actually leads to longevity, it’s fair to assume these features would be key for all of us in living longer and healthier lives. So, where to start? This is how tech can help you adopt the Blue Zone lifestyle:
Get constant moderate physical activity: According to The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 60% of U.S. adults track their weight, diet, or exercise routine. Of these, 30-50% say that collecting this data has changed their overall approach to health, or affected a health decision. Sensors tracking activity, sleep and more are made by numerous developers such as Misfit and Fitbit. When activity data is shared with peers, social mechanisms driving behavior change kicks in.
Smoke less: E-cigarettes, such as V2 Cigs, replace the nicotine cravings, but let the user keep the ritual. To individualize quitting smoking, the MyQuit Coach app analyzes the user’s nicotine consumption, track cravings, and encourage resolutions that are meaningful. Peer pressure can be added by joining online quit-smoking campaigns such as Stoptober.
Become a semi-vegetarian: The app Is it vegan? lets the user screen the content in food, and makes it easier to get rid of unwanted animal products. If you need a guide on an animal-free lifestyle, the Go Vegan! app leads the way. And yes, the word “semi” implies that a burger is ok every now and then (but you probably want to think twice about a double-patty bacon cheeseburger).
Have an active family and social life: New in town? Go to meetup.com and make friends. Serial date with Tinder. And don’t forget to call your mother on Sundays.
Design critical wearables
Tracking personal activity data has been shown to motivate healthy behavior change. Maintaining such a routine can be challenging, and many people stop wearing a sensor after a few months. A wearable needs to be integrated in the user’s life. Design is also critical. Do you really want a yellow wristband with your business suit?
Sonny Vu, founder of Misfit Wearables, has identified three factors that motivate people to wear sensors: Comfort, utility and invisibility. When designing wearables, developers need to ask a couple of key questions: will it be comfortable enough that the user would wear the device if it didn’t measure anything? Does the device do something useful? Vu emphasizes that if the wearable is not going to be invisible, then it has to be good-looking, precious, and desirable.
There is no quick-fix to living a long and healthy life. We do know that maintaining healthy habits increases the likelihood of having such lives, but there is certainly no guarantee for it.
Making significant life changes is difficult, especially since healthy habits have to be maintained over longer periods of time to have a positive outcome. Tracking activity, sharing progress with peers, and being challenged in games have been shown to be useful tools to change behavior. Integrating social platforms and game mechanisms is definitely important for every app looking to stay popular. And insurers like Humana are also making it easier with health and wellness programs.
Want to become a 100-year-old, and still be able to do those mountain hikes? App up and get your physical, dietary, and social patterns in order.
Or just relocate to a Blue Zone.
Learn more about Humana’s health and wellness programs.
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