Regions Dubbed “Blue Zones” May Hold Secrets to Longevity
Want to live to 100 and stay healthy along the way? Look to the Blue Zones—regions of the world with the highest number of centenarians—and you may be able to achieve just that.
Identified and studied by explorer Dan Buettner in partnership with National Geographic, the original Blue Zones—Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica— have the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. People living in these areas are reaching age 100 at rates ten times higher than in the United States. This begs the question: What are they doing that we aren’t?
Though no two Blue Zone populations eat exactly the same foods or do exactly the same activities, Buettner and his team identified nine distinctive traits that give these communities a leg up on aging gracefully. These simple lifestyle factors, called the Power 9®, may hold the secrets to longevity.
- Move naturally. It’s not all about hitting the gym. Incorporate physical activity into your day by taking the stairs, walking for errands, working in your garden or cleaning your home.
- Purpose. Essentially, “why you wake up in the morning,” whether it’s your job, family duties or volunteer work.
- Down shift. Take time to de-stress. Chronic stress can steal years from your life.
- 80% rule. Don’t overeat. Eat slowly, and stop eating when your stomach is 80% full.
- Plant slant. Eat mostly plants like fruits, vegetables and beans and serve smaller portions of animal products.
- Wine @ five. Enjoy wine in moderation. That’s 1-2 glasses per day—and no “stocking up” for the weekend!
- Belong. Take part in a faith-based community.
- Loved ones first. Commit yourself to your family members.
- Right tribe. Surround yourself with friends who support healthful behaviors.
Lifespan is influenced only 20% by genes; the rest is determined by lifestyle. Healthways, a Sharecare Company and a fellow partner in the ACLM Corporate Roundtable, has joined forces with Buettner to launch Blue Zones Project®, a community well-being improvement initiative designed to promote a healthy lifestyle by making the healthy choice the easy choice. Blue Zones Project encourages individuals to adopt Power 9 behaviors into their daily life. The initiative then helps communities support those healthy behaviors by working with grocery stores, restaurants, schools, churches, employers, and urban planning departments to create sustainable changes to environment, policy, and social networks. For more information about becoming a Blue Zones Project community, visit www.bluezonesproject.com.
Live by the Power 9 and you might just live a little longer.
Published March 2017