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How to Live to be a Hundred


The Greek island of Ikaria is one of the world’s “Blue Zones,” known for its centenarians, people who live past 100. What makes Ikarians live so long? A brief stay on the island this summer helped me uncover some clues…

  1. Healthy food. On Ikaria we breakfasted on creamy goat yogurt, mountain honey, and crusty whole-wheat bread. Other meals abounded in field-fresh vegetables, wild greens, and succulent fruit. This simple, delicious fare made us feel strong, alive, and ready for adventure.
  2. Fresh air and exercise. Ikaria consists largely of beaches and mountains. Enjoying these required moderate physical activity in air that was clear and fragrant. After that, who needs the gym?
  3. Sound sleep. After all that fresh air and exercise, sleeping better than usual was more or less a given!
  4. Natural beauty. The sight of the Aegean stretching out in a silvery vista, or of hillsides cascading with pink and white oleander, went a long way toward lowering stress and inspiring deep calm.
  5. Relaxed, appreciative outlook. Ikarians are known for their strong social bonds and enjoyment of the moment. We couldn’t help but notice during our stay that even casual passers-by had a smile for everyone, and plenty of time to talk.

Are these ingredients enough to make a person live to 100? I don’t know, but I’m tempted to move to Ikaria to find out!


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