The Blue Zones

by Robin Bush, ISR Communications

There are five places in the world where people live longer, than anywhere else. Known as The Blue Zones, they include Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. What can we learn from them to help us in our journey toward “healthy aging?”

In collaboration with demographers and researchers, Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner identified specific lifestyle habits of the Blue Zones that we could incorporate into our daily lives to increase life expectancy by 10-12 years, largely without chronic disease. Here are the lifestyle principles learned from the Blue Zones:

Move Naturally
People in the Blue Zones live in areas that push them to move without thinking much about it. Their exercise includes gardening, walking hills, and refraining from using mechanical conveniences.

Having a purpose is an important reason for getting up in the morning. Find it, and you’ll live about seven years longer.

Down Shift
Learn how to manage stress. People in Blue Zones pray, remember their ancestors, take naps, and engage in happy hour.

80% Rule
Stop eating before you’re full. Blue Zones people eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and don’t eat anything else. They live longer by controlling their weight.

Plant Slant

Eat more beans along with other vegetables. Blue Zones residents follow a Mediterranean diet. Animal protein is reserved for special occasions.

Wine at 5
Buettner discovered that everyone in the Blue Zones, except Adventists, drink alcohol. They have 1-2 glasses of wine daily with friends and/or with food.

Most of the centenarians belonged to a faith-based community. Their research shows that attending services four times per month adds 4-14 years to life. Older adults who have strong social support have better physical and mental health.

Loved Ones First
Blue Zone people put family and their partners first. Aging parents and grandparents often live in the same home with their children or nearby.

Right Tribe

Healthful behaviors are reinforced by those within the same social circle.

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