Get In The Zone
Blue Zones is a concept used to identify a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives. The Blue Zones Project, in partnership with researchers from National Geographic, studied the places around the world that enjoy the greatest longevity.
- Sardinia, Italy
- Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Icaria, Greece
They found that these communities have environments and cultural attributes that foster community, family life, connectedness, and physical activity. Common traits observed among the communities are:
- Family is put ahead of other concerns
- Lower rates of smoking
- Semi-vegetarianism– in most cases the majority of food consumed is derived from plants
- Constant moderate physical activity
- Social engagement – people of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities
- Legumes are commonly consumed
While the researchers discovered nine principles for longevity and health they identified one that stood out as a highly important principle: Move Naturally. “The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms,” the researchers wrote. “Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it.”
How can a community be more like a Blue Zone? By creating a culture where moving naturally is easy. In previous generations, many Americans did not own cars and walking, taking public transit, and other, more naturally active means of travel were used. Today, we have such a convenience-focused life, we often don’t even think about doing more to be naturally active. Here are some of the ways American cities are trying to create opportunities to move more and more naturally.
- Walking school buses
- Safe route to school initiatives
- Community gardens
- Walkable communities
- More parks and open space in cities
We are fortunate to live in a very active community, but what can we do better? Start by thinking about the unnecessary driving we do. If you need a few things at the store, do you drive? When was the last time you played outside with your kids? What opportunities do you have to bike or walk instead of drive? Do you use a snow blower in the winter to clear your sidewalk?
If we take the time to understand the strategies of those who are succeeding, we can succeed ourselves. In the case of the Blue Zones, if we can understand what constitutes an environment that breeds a long, healthy life, we can create an environment that allows us to have a longer, healthier life ourselves.