3 ways to change up your routine to help you live longer

3 ways to change up your routine to help you live longer
Meditating is nice, but even just spending more time on the floor instead of the couch can help you get healthier, since getting up and down strengthens your core. Westend61/Getty Images
  • Blue Zones, regions with the highest rate of Super Agers, have daily habits linked to longer lives.
  • Residents of Blue Zones get lots of physical activity without realizing it as part of their routine.

A few simple, daily habits can help you extend your lifespan even from the comfort of your own home.

Everyday activities like housework and gardening have similar benefits as a workout, helping reduce disease risk and boost energy and vitality, according to an upcoming docuseries called "Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones," premiering August 30 on Netflix.

In the series, author and National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner explains how the daily routines in regions of Italy, Greece, Japan, and Costa Rica keep people active and healthy. These areas are known as Blue Zones, places where people living there have some of the longest, healthiest lifespans of anywhere in the world.

Residents of Blue Zones have lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses linked to a sedentary lifestyle, but may not even go to the gym.

That's because they get most of the health-boosting benefits of exercise without even thinking about it, through natural movement involves in tasks like weeding and watering a garden, or doing chores by hand, according to Buettner.


Follow their example by sitting less and moving more, even when you're hanging out at home.

Break up with your chair or sofa, and spend more time on the floor

Okinawa, Japan is a classic example of a Blue Zone where residents are more likely than average to live past 100 years old.

A unique feature of Okinawan daily life is relatively few items of furniture in the home, which means residents there frequently sit on floor mats, and end up moving and using more muscles as they go about their lives.

"We found 103 year olds who would get up and down 30 times a day. That's like doing 30 squats," Buettner said. "They're strengthening their core, they're strengthening their lower body. They're improving their balance."

Okinawans do this without even trying, but if your schedule doesn't naturally include moments of physical activity, you can create a similar effect with trigger workouts, personal trainers previously told Insider. Take small, regular breaks throughout the day, and fit in some simple bodyweight exercise like squats, push-ups, or planks.


Keeping your house clean may keep you healthier too

In the Blue Zone of Nicoya, Costa Rica, residents get a better workout than the average gym rat just by doing household tasks by hand, according to Buettner.

"Activities around keeping the house clean, gathering and preparing food, involve unconscious movement which at the end of the day amounts to more physical activity than quote-unquote 'exercise,'" he said in the series.

Movement as part of your everyday routine is known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT for short) and it accounts for much more of our time than gym-based workouts.

Realizing the power of NEAT can help you save time by crossing chores off your to-do list and getting the health benefit of exercise all at once.

3 ways to change up your routine to help you live longer
Gardening is a form of gentle daily exercise, which can help you live a longer, healthier life. ibnjaafar/Getty Iamges

Gardening is a relaxing, easy way to stay active

Another way to sneak exercise into your day is by cultivating a green thumb. Most Okinawans have a garden of some kind, according to the docuseries.


Activities like weeding, watering, and the like add up to movement that promotes good mobility, strength, and stamina without putting too much stress on the body.

"This could be one or two hours a day of gentle, low-intensity physical activity and range of motion," Buettner said.