Eat more greens. Drink less booze. Exercise every day. There are many things we do to stay healthy and (hopefully) live longer. And thanks to this combination of a healthy diet, increased activity, and high-quality healthcare, residents of some countries can expect -- on average -- to live longer than others. The World Economic Forum's annual Global Competitiveness Report ranks countries around the world in terms of life expectancy. Read on to find out which places topped the list. (Spoiler alert: The U.S. comes in low at number 34 on the list, while countries in Asia and Europe dominate the top ten spots.)
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With a healthy, heart-friendly diet, plus an accessible healthcare system, it’s no surprise that Japan tops the list, with an average life expectancy of 83.8 years. (While Hong Kong beats Japan at an average of 84.3 years, it’s not technically a country, so it doesn’t qualify for this list.) Japan is said to have the highest number of centenarians of any country in the world. Both the oldest man and oldest woman — 113 and 115 years, respectively — are Japanese, so perhaps we’d all do well to switch to a diet that’s rich in fish, squid, tofu, and seaweed. For many people in Japan, mornings include the traditional exercise routine of rajio taiso, which can only help maintain their impressive health record.
If you’ve ever vacationed in Italy, chances are, you’ve fantasized about how much better life would be if you moved there permanently to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and delicious Mediterranean cuisine on a daily basis. Turns out, Italians can expect to live longer than most — their average expectancy of 83.5 years comes in at second on the World Economic Forum’s list. With any country’s health statistics, genes inevitably play a part, but there is little doubt that the Italian pace of life, and diet that’s rich in olive oil, garlic, fresh fish, and vegetables, have an impact, too.
Much like Italy, Spain‘s Mediterranean way of life clearly has a positive impact on the life expectancy of its residents (people live an average of 83.4 years). Regular doses of vitamin D-boosting sunshine and the cultural habit of a daily siesta (nap) probably help as well. Lingering over lunch with family likely alleviates stress and allows you to digest your food properly. Not only can this benefit overall health, but it could also add years to your life.
Is it Switzerland‘s wealth, its clean air and outdoor lifestyle, or perhaps even its love for cheese that puts it at fourth place on this list? The country’s excellent healthcare system and higher-than-average household incomes certainly contribute to residents’ longevity. No matter the cause, the Swiss live an average of 83.2 years.
A somewhat surprising entry on the list, Iceland boasts an impressive number of centenarians given its relatively small population. While the overall average is 82.9 years, it’s the country’s men that are particularly living long compared to those of most nations. Although generally thought to be attributed to the country’s increasing wealth and well-funded healthcare system, there are clearly some hardy genes on the island nation. A diet consisting of lots of fresh seafood and very little processed food must help add years to the average lifespan, as does some regular de-stressing in the famous natural hot spring pools, like the Blue Lagoon.
You might think that a profound love of cheese, red wine, and rich foods would shunt France further down the rankings, but clearly the the country’s joie de vivre has had a positive effect — the average life expectancy for the French is 82.7 years. Their relationship with red wine, and alcohol in general, means that binge drinking is less of a problem here than many other countries. Plus, despite an abundance of delicious patisseries, and a preference for fairly indulgent cuisine, smaller portion sizes mean that obesity rates are low. All perfectly good reasons to take a trip to France and pick up some good habits (while slathering your baguette with ripe Camembert and trying out some rather fine wines).
Anyone who has been to Singapore has likely noted how strikingly pristine and clean everything is, so it should come as no surprise that the life expectancy here is relatively high, at an average of 82.6 years. Singapore also has a famously low amount of crime as well as one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in the world. If you plan on visiting, make sure to remember that chewing gum is banned and littering is a punishable offense.
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