One of the things I love about visiting family in Northern Indiana (in addition to actually seeing relatives) is spending some time reading real magazines and newspapers at my in-laws’ house. They’ve got Harpers and Sojourners, the Elkhart Truth and the Goshen News, the Sunday New York Times and the Mennonite Weekly Review. They’ve even get AARP: The Magazine, which, truth be told, is a magazine I could be getting at home if I would join AARP. At any rate, I was looking through the current issue of AARP: The Magazine when this article caught me eye: “The Minnesota Miracle,” by Dan Buettner. It’s about the lovely town of Albert Lea, Minnesota and the changes they’ve made their to become a physically healthier community. What really interested me about the story was this side bar:

The Power 9
In 2000 a team of scientists and I began studying cultures where people live longest. The residents of these “Blue Zones” don’t diet or belong to health clubs, but they do share common healthy behaviors. We call them the Power 9:
1 Keep Moving
Find ways to move naturally, such as walking, gardening, using fewer labor-saving devices.
2 Find Purpose
And pursue it with passion.
3 Slow Down
Work less, rest, take vacations.
4 Stop Eating…
…when you’re 80 percent full.
5 Dine on Plants
Eat more veggies, and less meat and processed foods.
6 Drink Red Wine
Do it consistently but in moderation.
7 Join a group
Create a healthy social network.
8 Feed your soul
Engage in spiritual activities.
9 Love your tribe
Make family a high priority.
So here’s what struck me about this list. Five of the nine things listed here could be fulfilled by being part of a religious community. Find a purpose? Check. Slow down? Check. Join a group, feed your soul, and love your tribe? Check, check, and check. Of course the religious community would need to promote the right things, like sabbath time and healthy relationships. I guess a mostly vegetarian congregation that served red wine at potlucks would be just about perfect!
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