Victoria best place for wellness, expert on aging says

Residents of Southern Vancouver Island live in an environment offering the world’s best opportunities for maximum “wellness,” says a Victoria expert on aging.

Martin Collis, a retired University of Victoria physiologist, is scheduled to deliver a talk on longevity and wellness for UVic’s Centre on Aging next week. He said residents of the Victoria area have everything they need to make them the longest-lived people anywhere.

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“I’m convinced it won’t be long before we are one of the healthiest and longest-lived jurisdictions in the world,” said Collis, 76, in a telephone interview.

The Japanese, according to World Health Organization 2013 numbers, now live longest with an average life expectancy of 86.5 years. Canada scores at No. 12 on the same list with an average of 82.5.

Meanwhile, B.C. Stats compiles similar statistics but they don’t seem to bear out Collis’s assertions,.

From 2007 to 2011, people on southern Vancouver Island had an average lifespan of 82.39 years, compared with 83.18 for Greater Vancouver and 82.01 for the entire province.

But Collis said he is convinced it won’t be long before Vancouver Island catches up or overtakes the rest of the world, including the Japanese.

“We are catching up,” he said. “That is my point of view.”

Japan, for example, is a much more crowded society than Vancouver Island, especially in the cities. They also have a nuclear contamination problem and the quality of urban air is far worse.

Collis bases his assessment of the life-extending qualities of Vancouver Island on his six categories of “wellness.”

Magic of the Mind. “As you think so you shall be,” said Collis, quoting Shakespeare.

Exercise. “If there was a pill, or a pharmaceutical, that bestowed the benefits of exercise it would be the biggest selling medication in the world,” he said.

Laughter. “Laughter is a survival device,” said Collis.

Love. “Without caring, kindness and love, all life loses a lot of meaning,” he said.

Optimal Nutrition. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” said Collis, offering a favourite quotation.

Wonder. “What a remarkable species we are,” said Collis. “We do some awful things but there as just as many examples of people doing extraordinary things.”

And he said southern Vancouver Island is likely the best place in the world to fulfil all the necessary categories of wellness.

The climate is a great example of “Goldilocks” — just right, not too hot, not to cold. It actually encourages exercise.

The cultural life of Victoria, with its frequent high-quality shows, is rich.

A resident can get good access to quality food, much of which is produced or caught locally.

Even the people are an inspiration, like Victoria-raised basketball player Steve Nash, voted most valuable player in the NBA two years in a row, which is extraordinary for a six-foot-three Canadian.

So, Collis suggests, often things like wonder, magic of the mind and love begin with a proper appreciation of how lucky people are to live on southern Vancouver Island.

“We have all the things that make life worthwhile,” said Collis. “When I listen to people complain about life here and I think, ‘Do you like to complain or do you really not know what other places are like?’ ” he said.

Collis will soon be starting a consulting firm called “Back down the years, counselling and living for a wellness lifestyle past 50.”

He is scheduled to speak Wednesday. Registration for the free lecture is already full but a waiting list for a recording is being taken. Call 250-721-6369 or email senage@uvic.ca.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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