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Couple Sitting On Steps Outside At Home Looking After Garden Plants - Blue Zone reference

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Since the debut of the Netflix docu-series, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zone, viewers around the world have been adopting ‘Blue Zone’ practices shared in an effort to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

If you aren’t familiar, Blue Zones are communities where people not only live longer but also enjoy a high quality of life in their old age. The term was coined by researchers Gianni Pes, Michel Poulain, and Dan Buettner. As they began to discover longevity hotspots around the world, they circled them with blue marker, and thus the moniker was born. Their discoveries were recorded in Beuttner’s New York Times Best-Seller, The Blue Zones, and subsequent books, guides, articles, and documentaries.

The original Blue Zones studied are five lands across the globe.

1. Ikaria, Greece: A tiny Aegean island where residents live eight years longer than Americans, have half the rate of heart disease, and almost no dementia.

2. Loma Linda, California: A sunny city east of Los Angeles where Adventists prioritize faith, friendship, and fruit.

3. Sardinia, Italy: Home to the greatest concentration of centenarians in the world where lifestyles have not changed much since the time of Christ.

4. Okinawa, Japan: Where residents of the South Pacific island – including the world’s longest-living women – eat to live instead of live to eat.

5. Nicoya, Costa Rica: A Pacific coast peninsula where the people are twice as likely as Americans to reach a healthy age 90.

Though these areas differ in culture, language, and cuisine, there’s a throughline that researchers credit as the secret to residents’ longevity — lifestyle. Buettner’s research shows that 20 percent of how long we live is dependent on our genes and the other 80 percent is lifestyle.

SEE ALSO: How Gratitude Can Optimize Your Well-Being—And 4 Simple Ways to Practice It

We gathered the top three lifestyle tips from Blue Zone residents so you can have the tools to, hopefully, be among the world’s oldest and healthiest as well.

3 Lifestyle Tips From Blue Zone Residents:

Stay active – In all five Blue Zones studied, the people live active lives. That’s less common for the average American senior, although the Adventists in Loma Linda prove you don’t have to be a marathoner. Getting regular, low-intensity exercise like daily walks appears to maximize life expectancy, and reduce your chance of having heart disease and certain cancers. Sardinian shepherds also advocate for walks as it has a positive effect on muscle and bone metabolism without the joint pounding of running. Okinawans garden, walk, and have very little furniture so they mostly use tatami floor mats. Getting up and down off the floor dozens of times daily builds lower body strength and balance, which can help against dangerous falls. If you’re looking to have a more active lifestyle, follow the Ikarians lead by engineering mindless movements like gardening and walking into your day.

Eat light – Prioritizing whole foods, fruits and vegetables is a common place in the Blue Zones. The Ikarians have adapted a Mediterranean diet, the Adventists encourage a “well-balanced diet” including nuts, fruits, and legumes, low in sugar, salt, and refined grains. While the Sardinians eat a lean, plant forward diet accented with meat and the occasional glass of red wine. Okinawans and Nicoyans also rely on a plant based diet, opting for regional veggies to include in their early, light dinner.

Prioritize family and friends – The third most common trend among Blue Zones residents was their healthy relationships. Friends and family have been found to be beneficial to one’s overall health, happiness, and well-being. The Okinawan tradition of forming a moai provides secure social networks. Nicoyan centenarians get frequent visits from neighbors. Sardianians know how to listen, laugh, and appreciate what they have. Laughter and enjoyment with loved ones aids in reduced stress and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. All five communities put family first and celebrate elders by encouraging multigenerational relationships.

Blue Zones residents prove simple, clean changes to your lifestyle can help you live long and strong.

Tips from Blue Zone Residents on Living Longer, Healthier, and Happier  was originally published on