Blue Zones are a hot topic these days thanks to a recent Netflix series, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, but what do you know about them and how do they impact you?
We’ve got the lowdown below on what they are and how they can help you to live a better life with tips for ways to bring Blue Zone living into your life.
What’s a Blue Zone?
Blue Zones are regions around the world known for their unusually high number of centenarians a term for people who live to be age 100 or older. But these centenarians don’t just live to be old, they are very healthy and active well into the triple digits often exercising and have low disease and dementia rates…they are much healthier than the global average.
So how do they do it and what makes these Blue Zones different?
The concept of Blue Zones was introduced by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, who identified the below five Blue Zones worldwide:
1. Okinawa, Japan
2. Sardinia, Italy
3. Nicoya, Costa Rica
4. Ikaria, Greece
5. Loma Linda, California, USA
These communities have some of the oldest residents living to be age 100 or even older and are also frequently free of disease, illness, dementia issues and many of the issues older people deal with as they age. These Blue Zones all share several common lifestyles that may be the reason behind their long lives and overall health and wellbeing.
Below are nine reasons why Blue Zones stand out from the rest of us and are things you can incorporate into your own life!
9 Tips for Incorporating Blue Zone Living
- Eat More Plant-Based Meals: Blue Zone residents eat a lot of plant-based meals especially vegetables, greens, legumes (think beans including soybeans), and tubers like sweet potatoes. Sure there are fast food places in some of these areas but those who are living long and staying fit are not eating there. Add more fruits, vegetables and legumes into your meals when you can and reduce eating processed foods, red meat and sugary treats. Choose whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and oats instead of processed grains like white rice. Read our blog 7 Nutritious Foods That Won’t Break the Bank for healthy foods to help you live like you’re in a Blue Zone.
- Stay Physically Active…Start Small but Get Moving: Always check with your doctor before starting any time of exercise plan but making small changes like taking a few extra steps a day or opting to take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator can help. People who live in Blue Zones often sit on mats on the floor requiring them to get up and down multiple times a day which helps keep muscle mass, core strength and flexibility strong.
- Build a Strong Social Network: Blue Zone residents have very strong social networks and we’re not talking Facebook, we’re talking about in person/real world connections. If you live remotely or have a hard time getting out, Facebook serves a purpose as long as they build up your social interaction. Sitting scrolling on social media isn’t a helpful thing for most people. Try reconnecting with old friends and family members, join in local community groups, churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. Volunteer or connect with your local senior center. If you find that your friend group is getting smaller as you age you may be interested in reading some extra tips that can help here.
- Find Your Purpose in Life: Identify your passions and hobbies and explore them. This is a hallmark of Blue Zone living, people see their purpose in life and the value it brings not only to them but those around them and future generations. Volunteer for causes you care about to give your life greater purpose, think about what you’re passionate about and see how you can dive into that more.
- Manage Your Stress: Stress negatively impacts health and reducing stress can improve your health. Practice mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises, consider activities like yoga, tai chi or qi gong to improve your emotional well-being. Simplify your life by decluttering and prioritizing what truly matters.
- Make Good Sleep a Priority: Maintain a regular sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine and make your bedroom a comfortable, peaceful place for rest. If you have trouble sleeping or snore, reach out to your doctor for help. Some forms of insomnia can mean a serious health issue like sleep apnea.
- Connect with Nature: Spending time outdoors, whether it’s gardening, hiking or taking a quick walk outside, have both mental and physical benefits. Taking your shoes off and feeling the earth and grass beneath your feet. Take the time to look at and appreciate the beauty of nature literally taking time to smell the roses as the phrase says.
- Reduce Drinking Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, try to limit it and slowly reduce your drinking by taking baby steps of alcohol-free days if you drink daily and keep reducing from there.
- Quit Smoking: If you smoke, seek support to quit. Google quit smoking programs and resources online or reach out to your doctor for help.
Want more? Check out our blog, 5 Free and Easy Ways to Work Exercise Into Your Day
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