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Snobbish Thoughts April 2014

A toast to the Greeks’ way of life and longevity – OPA!

Santorini, GreeceAccording to a recent news article in the Huffington Post, the people of Greece (in particular, those on the island of Ikaria), live much longer lives on average, than all of Europe. They are three times more likely to live to 90 years old than Americans, and their lives are far more active and healthy.

The research being done on longevity have turned up so-called “Blue Zones” – particular spots around the globe where people live longer, healthier lives past the age of 100. Some of these places include Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California and Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and of course Ikaria Island, Greece, where the people have been found to have one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

Greek saladPerhaps it’s due to the sunny, temperate climate, which produces delicious fresh vegetables year-round, and the resulting “Mediterranean Diet”?  Or perhaps it’s because the Greeks are far more active on a daily basis than we Americans. But we’d like to think it’s because of the number one reason in this article’s list of 5 things the Greeks know about longevity … the nap!

Apparently the Greeks, particularly those in more rural locations such as Ikaria Island, still hold to the ancient custom of a larger midday meal and a restorative nap. Some shops and businesses even close for a period after noon so workers won’t miss their chance at a few ZZZs!

Napping Greek villagerIn an interview on NPR, Harvard researcher Dimitrios Trichopoulos is quoted as saying, “while naps may seem to break the flow of your day, they actually double it, giving you the energy and second-wind to be productive the second half of your day. It’s something we could especially benefit from in the hectic pace of life stateside.” In his research, Trichopoulos found that Greek men who napped just half an hour a day were much less likely to have heart attacks, most likely because of the stress-busting effect of an afternoon siesta.

At Huffington Post, President and Editor-in-Chief (and Greek-American) Arianna Huffington, created a nap room for her employees, given the round-the-clock nature of the news business, saying “Sleep is a performance enhancement tool.” Here at Cuddledown, we’re all about sleep, and although we have yet to create an official nap room, we’d like to raise a glass of wine to the Greeks -  the champions of democracy, and of naps – OPA!

 

American marathoner Shalane Flanagan races for the win in Boston

Shalane Flanagan (center) in 2010. Photo courtesy of outsideonline.com/Don Feria/Corbis

Shalane Flanagan (center) in 2010. Photo courtesy of outsideonline.com/Don Feria/Corbis

For elite runner Shalane Flanagan, this year’s Boston Marathon is especially meaningful. Growing up just north of Boston in Marblehead, Massachusetts, she had a love of running from a young age and thought that “Patriots’ Day was a national holiday and that everything revolved around the Boston Marathon.” Both of her parents competed in the marathon and she remembers standing at the finish as a child, cheering them on. Last year, Flanagan herself finished fourth in the race and recalls feeling disappointed about her finish, until hearing about the bombings. She then became the first runner to commit to the 2014 race, and has dedicated herself not only to running a personal best, but to winning the women’s division.

Recently, Anderson Cooper of 60 Minutes sat down with (or rather, laced up his sneakers and ran with) Flanagan, who talked about her training plan and strategy. The “pony-tailed assassin in knee socks” described the learning curve associated with marathon running, and how proper pacing is critical to success. Currently, she runs up to 120 miles per week, fitting in weight training and high-altitude runs to achieve peak fitness.

We’ll be cheering on Shalane today when she races in the 118th Boston Marathon, as we keep those impacted by last year’s tragic events in our thoughts. We’re so inspired by the strength and dedication of those racing, and wish the best of luck to all of the athletes!

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