What Is a Blue Zones Lifestyle? What Are Its Benefits?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably wondered how long you’re going to live and, more importantly, what the quality of your life will be like. We don’t want to just “live longer”; we want to enjoy life as long as possible. Fortunately, researchers have discovered just how to do that. In short, where you live, how you live and who you live with matters.  

What Is a Blue Zone?

Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, is a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author, who discovered that people who lived in certain areas of the world lived longer. He labeled these zones, ‘blue zones’.

The five blue zones are:

  1. Okinawa, Japan
  2. Ikaria, Greece
  3. Sardinia, Italy
  4. Loma Linda, California
  5. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

While genetics plays a role in health and longevity, it’s not as much as you may think. Your lifestyle is a far greater determinant of longevity, as established by The Danish Twins Study

The Power 9®: Blue Zones Practices for a Better, Longer Life

By studying the blue zones and what they have in common, Buettner and team were able to identify the nine lifestyle practices, called the Power 9® that contribute to a long and healthy life. Keep reading to see what the nine practices are and how you can adopt a Blue Zones lifestyle.

1. Move Naturally

We know that sedentary lifestyles are a primary reason why Americans are so unhealthy and why our lifespans aren’t as long as they could be. Buettner found that people living in blue zones incorporated movement into their lifestyles in natural ways, not by going to the gym for an hour every day. 

The advantage of a Generations community is that we have opportunities for both — exercise classes if you want them, as well as a beautiful environment for many other activities that make it easy to incorporate activity into your daily life. Whether it’s a walking group, gardening or some other outdoor activity, Generations communities support your movement. Be sure to check out our communities to find out what each offers, as each community is different. 

2. Purpose

We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and in fact, the blue zones research found that having a purpose added another seven years to life expectancy. During our working lives, it’s easy for work to become our purpose. But what about having a purpose after retirement? For some retirees, this transition can be a struggle and even cause depression.

One of the advantages of being part of a Generations community is that it provides multi-generational social activities and other programs for residents to explore so that they can create a new purpose. Need some ideas? Check out what a Generations community offers. 

3. Downshift

People in the blue zones experience stress, just like the rest of us. The difference between them and a typical American is that they have routines for reducing that stress. What’s the best stress reduction practice? The one you’ll stick to.

Generations communities offer a wide variety of programs that help to reduce stress like meditation, mindfulness exercises and yoga, just to name a few.

4. 80% Rule

This blue zones practice reflects the principle of eating in moderation. It comes from a Confucian mantra “hara hachi bu,” which people say before meals to remind them to stop eating when they are 80% full. In addition to following this advice, people in the Blue Zones also tend to eat their largest meal earlier in the day and the smallest meal in late afternoon or early evening. They probably avoid a lot of heartburn that way, too!

5. Plant Slant

Tired of hearing debates about which diet is the best? Atkins? Keto? Vegan? The blue zones research gave us living proof that puts those questions to rest.   

Centenarians, or people who live to 100 or older, eat a lot of beans. They also tend to eat whole foods grown locally rather than highly processed foods. 

Eating fresh, nutritious food is one of the primary draws of living in a Generations community. The advantage is you don’t have to cook it yourself! You can if you want to, but you can also trust that Generations provides options so that you can create your own blue zones diet. 

6. Wine @ 5 

Enjoy your happy hour! Living long doesn’t mean you have to give up your glass of wine. Moderation is key, of course, and you can’t save up all your drinks for the weekend.  

7. Belong

People living in blue zones keep a religious or spiritual practice. This faith contributes to their sense of well-being and gives them a feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves. 

You don’t have to be part of organized religion to get these benefits. Just having spiritual aspirations that connect you to something beyond yourself is enough. Most Generations communities have a chapel, transportation to services or activities that encourage spirituality, like meditation. 

8. Loved Ones First

The Blue Zones lifestyle puts great emphasis on family. People living in the blue zones often keep aging parents close to or in the home, so that they are not isolated, and so that younger generations may get to know the older generation. Research shows this has a positive impact on childhood mortality rates. 

At Generations, we understand that families cannot always care for aging parents so we organize many multigenerational activities to keep families close.

9. Right Tribe

Your social circle has a great impact on your health. People who live the longest, live in families or social circles that promote healthy lifestyles. Research shows that behaviors (like smoking and overeating) and attitudes are contagious, so choose your friends wisely. People who live in the blue zones are part of healthy robust communities

How to Live the Blue Zones Lifestyle

One way you can live the Blue Zones lifestyle is by being part of the Generations communities.

We make it easy for you to live a social, active, healthy lifestyle in our communities. This way you don’t have to work hard at receiving the blue zones benefits. 

Contact us today to learn more about being part of the Generations Communities, either for yourself or for your aging parents and family members. 

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