The concept of the Blue Zones came across my path recently. I would like, in this newsletter, to share the essence of Dan Buettner’s findings, for you to think about.

Buettner and his team wanted to know what it is that enables people to live to a hundred. They identified communities where the ratio of centenarians is higher than the average population and interviewed them. Their findings are a blueprint for those of who are going to live longer and want to make sure that they have quality of life and enjoy those extra years. I am including them in the book I am currently writing, so you can have a sneak preview here.

1. Move naturally – no gym memberships for these folks. They ride bicycles to work, clean their own houses, live on several      storeys or sit on the floor, all ensuring that movement is a natural part of their lives.
2. Live with purpose – the Japanese community called this their “Ikigai” or reason to get up in the morning. The researchers found that knowing your purpose in life added up to seven years onto your life.
3. Downshifting or reducing the impact of stress – living without any stress is unrealistic but it is what you do with that stress that is important. In the blue zones Buettner found the people had rituals that reduced the effects of stress, such as taking a nap during the day, taking time to remember the ancestors, or to pray.
4. 80% rule – in this case, it applies to eating – eating from a smaller plate or stopping when you have eaten 80% of the food on your plate. It is all about eating in moderation.
5. Plant Slant – not vegetarian, but eating healthy meats in small doses, with the emphasis being on vegetables, fruit, nuts, and legumes
6. Wine @ 5 – not cutting out alcohol altogether, but drinking in moderation. The people in the Blue Zones drank alcohol regularly, even daily, with friends and food, but only one glass.
7. A sense of belonging – for most this is being part of a faith-based community, but it essentially applies to being part of a community where your presence is expected and not questioned. Research showed that attending faith-based services 4 times per month added 4 – 14 years onto life expectancy.
8. Putting loved ones first – the centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. The elderly remain in the home as part of the family, not as is our Western tendency to put them into homes.
9. Picking a tribe – this is simply a group of friends who have your back and have similar interests. Social networks tend to shape behaviours, so the tribe of the centenarians have the same outlook on life and value the same things. It is important to choose your friends wisely.

This is a very brief dip into the content of the Blue Zones. You can watch Dan Buettner’s TED talk on youtube for more in-depth information. Do you think you can apply this in your own life? I would love to hear your comments

Best wishes