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The 4 Life-Changing Blue Zone Habits to Start Now

If you are unfamiliar with the term blue zones you are not alone. This trending phrase is used to describe five “zones” or regions of the earth that have a high concentration of centenarians - people over 100 years old. The areas named by researchers as blue zones are Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Researchers have been studying these areas for decades, and there have been some commonalities between all five blue zones that point to daily habits that help increase longevity. Here are the habits we can integrate into our lives to foster overall well-being and increase longevity.

Winni Wanderer | 4 Life-Changing Blue Zone Habits to Start Now

Move It or Lose It

Sustaining consistent movement and doing daily tasks by hand was a common characteristic among many of the blue zones. Walking to and from destinations, engaging in daily gardening or yardwork, practicing low impact exercises and maintaining a strong core were discovered to be the foundations that build longevity. In Sardinia, the cobblestone streets wind up and down the villages that are built into the side of the mountainous landscape, so a walk to the market becomes a low-impact, natural workout. It was also found that those who lived the longest performed the bulk of their strenuous work earlier in the day, and the rest of the day was spent doing easier tasks that still incorporated movement. In reference to building a strong core, it was noted by researchers that in Okinawa for example, people sit on the floor to eat and perform tasks rather than sitting on furniture. This practice nurtures natural core-building movements, and the repetition of getting up and down repeatedly supports the development of core strength.


Winni Wanderer | The 4 Life-Changing Blue Zone Habits to Start Now

Fueling with Plants

Many studies have shown that a plant-based diet can help to lower blood pressure, keep cholesterol in check, and keep diabetes at bay. Although the inhabitants of the blue zones ate a variety of whole foods, the common denominator across all was the prevalence of a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. This is not to say that animal proteins were completely removed or omitted. They were just eaten rarely and in moderation. The bulk of what is eaten is prepared by hand with many of the fresh ingredients coming from their own backyards or obtained from local sources. In Loma Linda, the Seventh Day Adventists have been identified as having the highest percentage of centenarians in that area, and they practice core principles that regard nutrition as a cornerstone for health.


Winni Wanderer | The 4 Life-Changing Blue Zone Habits to Start Now

Strong Social Network

We can all agree that positive human connections make for feel-good moments, but did you know that creating a strong social network that sparks consistent connections to others can also increase longevity? In the Netflix documentary, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, author and researcher Dan Buettner found that one of the most prevalent characteristics of longevity is a strong social network. This key element was found in all five blue zones and, although multi-generational family connections were mentioned, having a strong bond with friends and getting involved in the community was also a factor in calculating the increase in life span. Being an integral part of a social network, receiving support from others, and reciprocating by nurturing relationships are invaluable factors contributing to increased life expectancy.



Winni Wanderer | The 4 Life-Changing Blue Zone Habits to Start Now

Find Your Purpose

In the hectic rush of everyday life, it is easy to get swept up in busy schedules - traveling from place to place, juggling meetings and appointments, and working long hours. Most people need to work to support themselves and their families but the answer to the question, “do you work to live or live to work?” can sway longevity more than you may realize. As researchers delved deeper into learning more about the mental health of those living longer in the blue zones, they came across a universal belief that “finding one’s purpose” was vital. Waking up each day with a plan, whether it is to devote time to prayer or meditation, making time for a hobby, or getting together with that strong social network, forms a sense of purpose that fits in with the other blue zone characteristics. Working to live serves as a small piece to the goal of longevity, but living to work may be a deterrent.

Making changes to incorporate elements of these four habits – natural movement, plant-based nutrition, building healthy relationships, and having a purpose – can significantly alter your trajectory towards longevity. By leveraging insights from blue zones research and integrating them not only into our individual routines but also into community practices, we have the potential to establish and nurture more blue zones worldwide.

We hope this inspires you to learn more about the blue zones and the habits that can increase longevity. If you have a blue zones tip, feel free to reach out to us at WinniWanderer@winni.com. Hearing from you will make our day!

 

By a Staff Contributor hoping to live to 100

 

Wale, Angus, et al. Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones. MakeMake Entertainment, www.netflix.com. Accessed 2024. The following article is written for entertainment and informational purposes – not to provide medical advice. Always consult your physician when it comes to your personal health for advice on changes to your exercise habits, diet, or lifestyle.



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