Just about ten years ago, Dan Buettner began a project with National Geographic that identified five areas across the globe where people were living to 100 years-old or more at rates 10 times greater than in the United States. These areas have come to be known as Blue Zones and interestingly enough they all share nine healthy lifestyle characteristics in common. These Power 9® principles are being instilled in cities and business across the country with the help of the AARP and the United Health Foundation to empower people to live healthier, happier, and longer lives.
The five Blue Zones include:
- Ikaria, Greece: A small Greek “island where people forget to die,” and “experience 20 percent less cancer, half the rate of heart disease, and almost no dementia.”
- Loma Linda, California: The only Blue Zone in the U.S. where over 9,000 Seventh-day Adventists reside, living a lifestyle that advocates vegetarianism and exercise, allowing them to outlive their fellow Americans by a decade.
- Sardinia, Italy: A small Mediterranean island where people “hunt, fish, and harvest their food” and most of the population carries the M26 marker, a gene connected to longevity.
- Okinawa, Japan: Where the world’s longest living women call home, often referred to as “the land of immortals,” here people thrive on a vegetarian diet and an active lifestyle.
- Nicoya, Costa Rica: An 80-mile peninsula where a positive outlook and water rich in calcium and magnesium helps them ward of disease.
The nine principles all of these places have in common? Movement, purpose, calm, will-power, plants, wine, faith, family, and community. Taken from bluezones.com:
- “Move Naturally The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron or run marathons. Instead, their environments nudge them into moving without thinking about it.
- Purpose Why do you wake up in the morning? Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
- Down Shift Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress.
- 80% Rule “Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawans say this mantra before meals as a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
- Plant Slant The cornerstone of most centenarian diets? Beans. They typically eat meat—mostly pork—only five times per month.
- Wine @ 5 Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, especially if they share those drinks with friends.
- Belong Attending faith-based services four times per month – no matter the denomination – adds up to 14 years of life expectancy.
- Loved Ones First Centenarians put their families first. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby, commit to a life partner and invest in their children.
- Right Tribe They world’s longest lived people chose or were born into social circles that support healthy behaviors.”
Start utilizing these 9 principles today, inspire those around you to do the same, and soon enough we can spread these Blue Zones to include our own communities.
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