Why do some people age in failing health and sadness, while others grow old with vitality and joy? In this revolutionary book, bestselling author John Robbins presents us with a bold new paradigm of aging, showing us how we can increase not only our lifespan but also our health span. Through the example of four very different cultures that have the distinction of producing some of the world's healthiest, oldest people, Robbins reveals the secrets for living an extended and fulfilling life in which our later years become a period of wisdom, vitality, and happiness. From Abkhasia in the Caucasus south of Russia, where age is beauty, and Vilcabamba in the Andes of South America, where laughter is the greatest medicine, to Hunza in Central Asia, where dance is ageless, and finally the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa, the modern Shangri-la, where people regularly live beyond a century, Robbins examines how the unique lifestyles of these peoples can influence and improve our own. Bringing the traditions of these ancient and vibrantly healthy cultures together with the latest breakthroughs in medical science, Robbins reveals that, remarkably, they both point in the same direction. The result is an inspirational synthesis of years of research into healthy aging in which Robbins has isolated the characteristics that will enable us to live long and-most important-joyous lives. With an emphasis on simple, wholesome, but satisfying fare, and the addition of a manageable daily exercise routine, many people can experience great improvement in the quality of their lives now and for many years to come. But perhaps more surprising is Robbins' discovery that it is not diet and exercise alone that helps people to live well past one hundred. The quality of personal relationships is enormously important. With startling medical evidence about the effects of our interactions with others, Robbins asserts that loneliness has more impact on lifespan than such known vices as smoking. There is clearly a strong beneficial power to love and connection.