The Blue Zones
Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Habits of the oldest living groups on the planet.
When it comes to being healthy, I have no aspirations to live to be a really old age, that doesn't concern me. What does concern me, is feeling healthy and good while I am alive, however long that may be. To help me do that, I look to the people of the blue zones. The blue zones are 5 populations across the globe where people are living the longest. These people are living into their 90's and 100's while maintaining good health and active lives.
They're located in:
-Loma Linda, California
-Nicoya, Costa Rica
It has been found that there are certain lifestyle habits are common in all 5 of these populations. Understanding these may help us to preserve our health too. These are the habits that stood out to me:
Natural Movement - Most of the people in the Blue Zones do not participate in planned exercise, but they do have lots of natural movement in their daily lives. Okinawans, for example, traditionally sit on the floor. Sitting and getting up and down from the floor is much more physically tasking than sitting in chairs. In Sardinia, many of the men are shepherds and walk at least 5 miles a day. These people also tend to live more traditional lives without an abundance of modern conveniences. They spend more time doing household chores and gardening versus sitting behind a computer.
Eat mostly plant based - The people of the blue zones eat mostly plants, and when they do eat meat it is a small serving that's more like a side, not the main dish.
Eat the smallest meal in the evening - Their smallest meal is dinner, which is eaten early in the evening, not late at night.
Faith-based community - The blue zones people tend to belong to some type of faith based community where they gather together at least once a week. Most of the people in Loma Linda, for example, are part of the 7th Day Adventist Church.
Strong sense of connection - All of the blue zone communities have a strong sense of family and friends. In Sardinia, people gather in the streets each afternoon to hang out, joke around and laugh. In Okinawa, people belong to a group of life-long friends they call a "moia". In Nicoya people tend to live in multi-generational family homes and regularly visit with their neighbors.
Sense of purpose - Part of the culture of several of these groups instills a strong sense of life purpose. The Adventists in Loma Linda volunteer regularly. Okinawa has something called an "ikigai" which means "that which gives your life worth". In Nicoya, they have a concept called "plan de vida" or soul's purpose.
These habits are very different than the typical, modern American lifestyle. I've been incorporating them into my own life over the last couple of months by taking walks outside, eating dinner earlier, connecting with family regularly and putting more effort into attending social gatherings. I can say I have felt a positive shift from living more like a blue zoner.
If you'd like to learn more on this topic, be sure to check out bluezones.com.