You may be familiar with the term Blue Zones – areas around the world where people live the longest. People reaching the age of 100, 10 x more than the average rate, and appear to be happier while doing so. Dan Buettner and his team studied these zones and found 9 things each of them had in common. Below we break down the lessons from the Blue Zones and offer suggestions for how you can incorporate them into your life.
They don’t necessarily run marathons or join gyms, rather they live in an environment that is constantly requiring them to move without thinking about it (they tend to their gardens, hand wash clothes and often lack the mechanical conveniences many houses have today).
ACTION: Include more incidental exercise in your day. Walk to work, take the stairs, help a friend with a backyard project, grow vegetables in your garden. Start looking for different ways you can incorporate movement into your everyday activities.
Having a strong sense of purpose and being able to articulate it is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
ACTION: Think about your ideals, values, principles and morals. Write them down on a piece of paper. Look at the things you like to do and put these into actions. Love to garden? Volunteer at your local council to help with bush regeneration. Make space in your house where you can display your passions and accomplishments so every time you see it you will be reminded of how you fit into the world and proud of your achievements.
Everyone has stress, even those in the Blue Zones. What differs for them is the ability to shed the stress. Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians have happy hour.
ACTION: Find what is a health activity that helps you manage your stress. It may be a walk, weekly massage, bath or may be inspired by the Sardinians with a moderate glass of wine.
Eating until they are 80% full. People in Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or evening and then don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
ACTION: Be mindful when eating. Sit down to eat your meal and don’t have any screens in front of you. Eat slowly, focusing on the flavour, texture and temperature of your food. Take deep breaths before beginning your meal so you your body is relaxed and you don’t just gobble down your food.
Beans, legumes, other plant based proteins and vegetables make up the majority of Blue Zone diets. Meat is consumed 5 times a month on average with serving sizes equivalent to a pack of cards.
ACTION: Start small with meat free Monday, once this becomes a regular part of your week then try making 2 out of your 3 daily meals vegetarian. You will eventually find a happy balance of meat/vegetarian food that is right for your body and lifestyle. For inspiration with recipes click here
People in Blue Zones consume alcohol daily, but it is only 1-2 glasses with friends and/or food.
ACTION: The action for this is pretty self explanatory. Just remember you can’t save 5 days worth of drinks for a 10 drink binge on the weekend. The key is moderation. If you do decide to consume alcohol try and choose an organic or preservative free wine.
Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.
ACTION: Denomination doesn’t matter, it’s the regular attendance of faith based services that have the biggest impact. If religion doesn’t feel right for you then perhaps attend a meditation group 4 times a month, this will allow you to check in spirtually.
Aging parents often live in or nearby the home and are an integral part of everyday life.
ACTION: If living with or in walking distance of your family is difficult, then ensure you maintain regular communication with a phone call or regular family meals. Sometimes we need to create our own family with close friends and neighbours. Whatever your ‘family’ make up is, make sure you’re connecting daily with them.
Those who live the longest choose social circles that support healthy behaviours.
ACTION: Have an open conversation with those in your social network about why health is important to you, get them on board and ask for their support. Shift your social events to be more health focused, rather than meeting at the pub meet for a picnic in a park.
For more inspiration click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=72&v=waGHi6aMzh8