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Creating Blue Zones

by Beth on June 5th, 2014

Have you heard of Blue Zones? They are places in the world where people live significantly longer lives. Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; Vilcabamba, Ecuador; and a community in Loma Linda, California are all Blue Zones.

Dan Buettner coined the term after teaming up with National Geographic to investigate the regions of the world that have the highest concentration of people over 100. Buettner described what he discovered in his book, The Blue Zones, and concluded that the following 9 things contribute to longevity:

  • Keep moving – find ways to move naturally throughout your day
  • Find purpose – and pursue it
  • Slow down – take breaks and vacations
  • Stop eating – eat until you are 80% full
  • Dine on plants – eat more veggies and less meat and processed food
  • Drink red wine – consistently, but in moderation
  • Join a group – create a healthy social network
  • Feed your soul – engage in spiritual activities
  • Love your tribe – make family a high priority

Buettner is now working to create Blue Zones across the United States. These are cities where a certain percentage of people and businesses follow his healthy-living plan. Albert Lea, Minnesota was the first Blue Zone community and Hermosa, Redondo, and Manhattan beaches in California have more recently joined the movement. These cities have all seen significant drops in smoking and obesity rates, increases in exercise and healthy eating habits, reduced healthcare costs, and increased average life expectancy. Iowa is following suite with the goal of becoming the healthiest state by 2016. Workplaces are also using the 9 principles to create Blue Zone worksites.

The Center for the Advancement of Well-Being is working to create a model well-being university at George Mason and several of our initiatives align with Buettner’s principles. What about you? Is there something you could do to initiate a Blue Zones project in your community, workplace or school? How could you encourage people around you to move more, eat better, and become more social?

From → Well-being

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