Taking Lessons from the Blue Zone

You may have heard about Blue Zones® – several places or “zones” around the world where people are reported to live longer than anywhere else on earth as a result of following nine lifestyle traits. In 2004, New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner and National Geographic worked with longevity re- searchers to identify places throughout the world where people lived measurably better for longer1.

After identifying these “Blue Zones,” researchers went to each lo- cation to identify lifestyle factors that might explain this longevity. They found nine specific characteristics, which the author calls the “Power 9®”2.

1. Move Naturally

Put yourself into an environment that is constantly nudging you to move more without thinking about it. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or physically rake your yard in place of using a leaf blower.

2. Purpose

According to the Blue Zones®, having a sense of purpose or a reason for “why you get up in the morning” could be worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.

3. Down Shift

Take moments out of each day to remove stress from your routines. This could be prayer, meditation, taking a moment to count blessings, or enjoying a short nap.

4. 80% Rule

Individuals in the Blue Zones try to stop eating when their stomach is 80% full. They also eat their smallest and final meal in the late afternoon or early evening.

5. Plant Slant

Blue Zone diets consist mainly of beans, such as fava, black, soy and lentils. On average, a 3-4 oz. serving of meat (usually pork) is eaten about five times per month.

6. Wine @ 5

People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly – usually, 1-2 glasses per day, with friends and/or with food.

7. Belong

Blue Zone research showed that attending faith-based ser- vices four times per month adds 4-14 years of life expectancy. The benefit seems to come from belonging to a faith-based community, regardless of denomination.

8. Loved Ones First

Successful centenarians (people who live up to or beyond 100 years of age) tend to put their families first. Examples of this include keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home, committing to a life partner, and investing in their children with time and love.

9. Right Tribe

Create social circles that will support your healthy behaviors and the healthy behaviors of those around you.

In 2009, the Blue Zones partnered with AARP and the United Health Foundation to apply the Power 9 principles to the com- munity of Albert Lea, MN. After one year, program participants added an estimated 2.9 years to their average lifespan, while healthcare claims for city workers dropped 49%2. What impact could the Blue Zones have on your life?


  1. Blue Zones History. Blue Zones® Live Longer, Better® website. https://www.bluezones.com/2014/03/blue-zones-history/. Published March 20, 2014. Accessed June 23, 2015.
  2. Buettner, D. Power 9® Reverse Engineering Longevity. Blue Zones® Live Longer,Better® website. http://www.bluezones.com/2014/04/power-9/. Published April 9, 2014. Accessed June 23, 2015.

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