Every week, Marco leads a Dance Mania class at one of our local YMCAs. He was a Zumba instructor but, frustrated with the restrictions of their music choice requirements, he created his own brand of dance fitness using music that inspires him. Each week 30-50 people gather to follow fun dance moves led by Marco. It’s one hour of constant dancing, screaming, and sweating. Those who wear fit bits say it’s about a 500 calorie burning hour of movement.
My favorite healthy aging book, “The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest” by Dan Buettner, studied 7 regions in the world where a good percentage of people are living healthy lives to their 90’s and 100’s. Throughout this blog, I refer to many of the themes explored in his book. One of the 9 lessons is to “move naturally”. What Buettner found in all the blue zones is that the centenarians live lives of activity. None of them go to the gym, but their daily lives contain movement.
The community on the island of Sardegna in Italy is a cluster of men in their 90’s and 100’s. Each day they walk the hilly island fields shepherding their flocks of sheep. On the Greek island of Ikaria, the centenarians exercise by gardening, tending the vineyards, and walking in their communities. And, in Okinawa, the 100-year-old women never attend “boot camp” but, in addition to gardening and walking, squat daily up and down from the floor due to the fact that they don’t have furniture.
We see this kind of movement when we travel to Italy and other parts of Europe. People walking from place to place carrying out their daily chores. Bicyclists of all ages pedaling to and fro. And, absent the modern convenience of the elevator, folks climb the stairs in their homes and workplaces.
In Salem, there is a restaurant location that doesn’t succeed. My take on this is that the two food purveyors that tried just weren’t that good. Many others say that it’s the lack of parking when, less than a city block away, there is a large municipal lot. It seems, they suggest, the walk from the lot to the restaurant is just too much.
The natural movement of walking would be a welcome addition to the day. And, while we may not have a garden to tend or vineyards to stroll, finding more steps in our day allows our bodies to do what they are built to do, move. Dancing and moving to the music each week in Marco’s class is one more fun way to age!