Blue Zones are areas in the world where pockets of communities have the highest percentages of centenarians (people over 100 years old). Through the Blue Zone Project there is considerable scientific documentation which reveals there isn't one practice creating longevity, but a collective lifestyle that includes physical activity, nutrient–dense food, emotionally fulfilling social circles, spiritual/religious purpose, and stress reduction practices.
In 2005, Dan Buettner first wrote about Blue Zones in National Geographic . The article titled “The Secrets to a Long Life” was followed by several New York Times bestselling books by Buettner. Each book delves deeper into the study and developing initiatives of Blue Zones and the Blue Zone Project. Buettner's work originated from scientific studies by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, outlined in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology .
There are several communities which have been identified by Buettner's Blue Zone Project. These communities understand the importance of incorporating holistic practices into their lifestyle. Communities including Okinawa Japan, Sardinia Italy, Nicoya Costa Rica, Ikaria Greece, and Loma Linda California are examples of locations around the world where people are living the longest, and are also experiencing a higher sense of fulfillment during their lifetime.
As part of Buettner's Blue Zone Project, numerous cities in the U.S. are taking part in a study to incorporate Blue Zone initiatives into their communities. You can also create micro–communities in your work or home environments. The basics of a Blue Zone are a nutrient–dense diet (mostly plant based), physical activity/movement, reducing stress and increasing self–care, social interaction/support, and spiritual or religious purpose. Here are a few ways in which the Blue Zone Project suggests you can start to incorporate Blue Zone practices into your micro–community.
A moai (mow–eye) is a special group which creates a ten–week connection commitment. This can be anything from a nature walk to community dinner. Whatever speaks to the group and creates connections.
People with purpose live up to seven years longer than those who do not. Volunteer with an organization that speaks to you. When we volunteer we help people in need. Studies have shown when we help others we feel good about who we are.
Consider incorporating Blue Zone practices into your family or workplace. Spreading the word about this lifestyle provides others with knowledge and powerful tools for better health and wellness.
You can use this Blue Zone Project Personal Checklist to assist with incorporating a Blue Zone mentality into your own lifestyle. Select five actions that you can complete within the next six months.
1. Walking shoes in plain sight. A natural movement nudge.
2. Adopt a dog. People with dogs are more active, and pets add longevity to our lives.
3. De–tech. Remove technology from your bedroom (as part of your sleep–hygiene program), and as many rooms as possible to help reduce mindless eating and encourage an active mindset.
4. Meditation/quiet/prayer space. Designated space to de–stress and encourage self–care.
5. Attend plant–based cooking class. Learn about the value of nutrients and real food.
6. Garden or join community garden. Stress reduction, nutrient dense food cultivation and community involvement.
7. Schedule weekly happy hour with friends. Remember balance when consuming alcohol
8. Talk about getting older. Preparation and action can help families come together and reduce stress of the unknown. Visit mydirectives.com for more information.
9. Join faith–based organization. People who belong to this type of community live 4–14 years longer than those who do not.
However you choose to move forward taking the time to be mindful about the world around you and how you wish to move through it is powerful action for greater good. You may find these tools create new thought process and belief systems. The benefits will be increased energy, quality relationships, fulfilling purpose and increased well–being to support your healthier lifestyle.
For more information about the Blue Zone Project visit, bluezonesproject.com.