Yes, really. “One of the biggest killers of older people is falls,” Buettner declares. Allow us to remind you of the following stats: If you’re over 65, there’s a one in four chance that you’ll fall3, and if you do, studies show your chances of falling again double. If you fall and break your hip,4 there is a 30 to 40% chance5 that you will die within a year (not necessarily from the fall itself, but perhaps from other complications related to the accident).
When you sit on the floor, however, you constantly train your lower body strength and balance—especially if you’re getting up and down off the floor multiple times a day.
“Lo and behold, in Okinawa, [they have] far fewer falls,” says Buettner. “In the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, they’re sitting on furniture, but they’re also in their gardens. When they’re in their gardens, they’re on their knees, they’re bending over, [they’re using] the same sort of muscles that we never use when we’re sitting in our offices, watching TV, and so on.”
Of course, sitting on the floor isn’t the end all, be all for longevity; but Buettner counts it as one of those “counterintuitive” practices that helps these people live much longer, healthier lives. “[They] add up to a much bigger piece of the longevity pie than we think,” he adds.