Have you heard of Blue Zones? Lots of people are talking about them! Blue Zones are regions in the world where it appears that people live longer, and with fewer chronic diseases,1 than average. They can be found all over the world from Japan to Costa Rica and even in the USA in Loma Linda, California. What makes these zones so special? Let’s look at what they have in common and see how you can incorporate some of what they do into your daily life.
1. Keep moving
In Blue Zones, people don’t have to go to the gym to work out for an hour a few times a week. Instead, movement…NATURAL movement, is built right into their everyday life. For many people living in Blue Zones, the topography is hilly so simply moving around their environment is a bit of a workout and they do this every single day. They also tend to live in areas where they can walk to get groceries, go to the movies, visit friends, or attend their place of worship. Their houses tend to have a lot of stairs and their homes have well-managed gardens.
Working natural movement into your everyday life can be as simple as parking in the spot furthest from your destination, doing housework daily instead of hiring a service, and sitting on the floor most of the time. Yes…that’s right! Getting up and down from the floor uses more muscles and requires more stability than getting off a chair or sofa.
2. Eat plants…and drink wine
Well…eat plants MOST of the time. People living in Blue Zones have a diet that is based around beans and lentils. Meat is eaten, on average, only about five times a month and only in very small portions. Plus…unlike in North America where we can supersize everything, people living in Blue Zones follow what is called the 80% rule. This means that they eat until they are only 80% full…not bursting at the seams! How do you know if you’re 80% full? It’s pretty simple, actually. You eat until you are no longer hungry. Not stuffed…just no longer hungry.
Most people living in Blue Zones also enjoy wine daily, but never binge drink on the weekends. One or two glasses of wine is simply part of a meal or enjoyed with friends at the end of the day.
3. Have a purpose
People living in Blue Zones embrace what they call, “plan de vida” which loosely translates to: reason to live. While having that sense of purpose is important, it goes hand-in-hand with the idea of belonging. Most people living in Blue Zones tend to belong to a faith-based community or feel a strong sense of spirituality not associated with any one religious practice. It’s belonging to the group, or feeling a part of something bigger than yourself, that is important.
4. Family first
In Blue Zones, people tend to live in multi-generational homes. Aging parents and grandparents live with the family, whenever possible, or close by at the very least. Living in multi-generational homes can help children to respect and appreciate elders and get a stronger sense of family while living with children can serve to energize older adults and reduce isolation and loneliness.
Those lucky enough to live in a Blue Zone can typically expect to live a healthy life and maybe even celebrate their 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends. But, if you’re like most people, you don’t live in a Blue Zone, so you can use some of the information in this article to help make your world a little more Blue.
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