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One step at a time: why Hongkongers live so long

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Why do Hongkongers live longer than anyone else? It’s a baffling question given the cramped housing, stressful living and air pollution. Yet, for the past three years, the city has topped an annual list of longevity, for both men and women. I’ve read all manner of theories as to the reason, but none is unique to Hong Kong, so here’s my guess: it’s because residents walk so much.

The latest study by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare put the average life expectancy of Hong Kong women at 87.66 years and 81.7 years for men. Japanese women were second, at 87.26 years, and Spanish women third at 85.84 years. Second and third respectively for men were Switzerland with 81.5 years and Japan at 81.09. There are no corresponding figures from international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, as Hong Kong is not a member state.

When the rankings are released each July, experts in health and lifestyle are called on to explain why Hong Kong fares so well. Among the reasons are low rates of smoking, a seafood diet, the sub-tropical climate and close family ties. The latter, through regular get-togethers for lunch or dinner, is claimed to bring happiness and curtail........

© South China Morning Post