The residents of Sardinia, Italy have some of the longest lifespans in the world. Not only do they live longer, they also suffer fewer diseases and enjoy more years of healthy life than almost any other group. Why?

Although we don’t know for sure, there seem to be five main reasons.

    1. Active Lifestyle

    Hard work is the basis of life in Sardinia. Many of the people who live there are farmers who walk several miles every day to tend their crops and livestock. In fact, until recently Sardinia had few cars and obesity was “virtually nonexistent.”

    2. Diet

    Sardinians eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. They also eat a lot of dairy products, although recently there’s been a debate about whether dairy is good or bad for you. Plus, the local wine is high in components that may help fight cardiovascular disease.

    3. Genetics

    A big part of Sardinians’ long lifespans may simply be their genetics. Their genetic line has been essentially cut off from the rest of the world for about 11,000 years. This allows certain traits, such as longevity, to amplify over time.

    4. Women Take on the Stress

    In many developed countries, women tend to outlive men. In the US, there are four female centenarians, someone who lives to 100, for every one male centenarian. But in Sardinia the ratio is about one to one.

    This may be because in Sardinia, men do the hardest physical labor, but women do the most stressful labor-- managing the family finances. Lower stress leads to lower risk of cardiovascular disease for men, boosting their longevity.

    5. Family

    In addition to hard work, the other basis of Sardinian life is family. This leads to better healthcare for the elderly. According to Irene Tola, a local Sardinian, “I would never put my father in a retirement home. It would dishonor the family.”