Living a long, healthy life is something everyone aspires to do. There are some common-sense things you can do to stay healthy — like not smoking, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight. Researchers have identified several cultural groups in different places that all exhibit similar habits leading to long life and health. These groups live in “blue zones,” or areas that stand out for their inhabitants’ healthy habits and extended lifespan. Many members of these groups — sometimes as many as 1 in 3 men — live into their late 90s, or even reach age 100 or more. What is a blue zone? And how can you adopt some of these principles and apply them to your own life?
Blue Zones in the World
Blue zones are places across the globe where people live longer and healthier. They include: Icaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and the Seventh-day Adventist population in Loma Linda, California. These groups are spread out all across the world and are different in terms of location, culture, and ethnicity, but they share common healthy habits that have enabled many of their members to live well into their 90s and beyond, many of them achieving centenarian status. Some of these healthy habits include:
- Avoiding smoking
- Moving and exercising daily
- Eating a diet low in red meat; consuming fish and lean meats
- Plant-heavy or vegetarian diet
- Eating legumes and whole grains
- Enjoying alcohol — including red wine — in moderate amounts
- Having a healthy social and family life
- Following a faith or spirituality
- Reduced stress
- Consuming spices, such as turmeric
- Consuming soy products
Additionally, many people in the blue zones engage in activities like gardening and spending time doing activities they enjoy. Several of the groups also prioritized the empowerment of women.
How can you adopt Blue Zone habits?
Though you might not be able to move to Costa Rica or Japan, you can still follow the guidelines set forth by these groups to help boost your own health and longevity.
- First, the common-sense methods: shedding excess pounds and cutting out harmful substances like smoking, excessive alcohol, and stressful situations.
- Once you’ve cut back on negative habits, try introducing some healthful foods like legumes, soy, and more veggies and fruits into your daily meals.
- Try taking a daily walk or jog to boost your activity levels.
- Spend time doing activities you enjoy to boost your mood — whether it’s meditation, gardening, yoga, knitting, or drawing.
- Engage in positive social interactions with people you love.
- Track your progress — and see how you feel!
Blue Zone populations can teach us a lot about health and living a long, healthy life. Their practices are essentially forms of Self-Care that we can all engage in. Try following some of their techniques — and note how your physical and mental health improves.
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