A lifetime of continual labor could be a key factor in determining why people in some areas of Taiwan have the longest life expectancies in the country, according to a doctor.
He was referring to the six townships recognized by the government in June as being the “longest-living towns.”
Those townships topped a nationwide poll for having the highest percentage of people aged over 90.
The six longest-living towns were Shuangsi (雙溪) in New Taipei City (新北市), Shihtan (獅潭) in Miaoli County, Jiangjun (將軍) in Greater Tainan, Fonglin (鳳林) in Hualien County and Jinhu (金湖) and Jinning (金寧) in Kinmen County, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
Chen Liang-kung (陳亮恭), director of the Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, said continual labor could be the leading factor in longevity in those places, adding that most of the residents have labored all their lives and that some of the nonagenarians still work their farms.
These elderly people tend to eat the vegetables and fruit they grow and consume very little processed food, Chen said.
For city dwellers, he said, regular exercise and a balanced diet are the best ways to ensure a healthy and long life.
However, the results of a survey on people’s habits showed that over 34 percent of the population do not get enough exercise and 50 percent eat out for breakfast and lunch, which might lead to an unbalanced diet lacking in fiber.
Twenty-five percent of the respondents, and nearly 45 percent of female respondents aged 30 to 39, do not exercise at all, according to the survey.
Those who do exercise reported that they do so 2.4 days per week, failing to meet the prescribed 30-minute sessions three days a week, the amount recommended by the Department of Health, the survey showed.
Chen said some people might have been scared off red meat by the theory that consuming too much of it might cause colon cancer.
The doctor said that insufficient intake of red meat might result in vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to neurological disease.
The survey also found that nearly 30 percent of respondents do not get enough sleep and about 40 percent said they had suffered from insomnia in the past month.
The poll, conducted among 1,082 citizens aged over 20, was carried out by Health Tips magazine.