As we get older, many of us wonder what the secrets are to living a long, healthy, and happy life. On a recent episode of the radio show “Health Futures”, host Bob Roth explored this idea by interviewing representatives from the Blue Zones Project in Scottsdale, Arizona.
CLICK HERE for the full interview.
The Blue Zones Project is an initiative aimed at helping entire communities adopt the lifestyle habits of the world’s longest-living people. The term “blue zones” refers to specific geographic regions around the world where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100. Through research, the Blue Zones identified 9 common lifestyle factors shared by people in Blue Zones that contribute to their longevity and well-being.
Some of the key insights from blue zones include:
Prioritizing Social Connections
People in blue zones put emphasis on developing meaningful relationships and surrounding themselves with support systems. This reduces stress and loneliness, which are major risk factors for poor health as we age. Ways they foster community include multigenerational families living together, establishing faith-based connections, and maintaining close friendships.
Blue zone residents engage in regular physical activity but they don’t “pump iron” or overdo it. Rather, they integrate natural movement into everyday life by gardening, walking, and doing household chores. The key is avoiding sedentary lifestyles.
Maintaining a Plant-Based Diet
People in blue zones eat a predominantly plant-based diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Though they do eat meat, it’s minimal and used more for celebratory occasions. Limiting processed foods and overeating is also important.
Having a sense of purpose and meaning is linked to better cognitive and emotional health. Blue zone elders often have built-in purpose from life roles, faith traditions, volunteer work, or hobbies that keep them engaged.
Taking Time to De-Stress
Finding ways to shed daily stress is vital. Common techniques used in blue zones include prayer, afternoon naps, meditation, happy hour with friends and spending time in nature.
The Blue Zones Project in Scottsdale
The Blue Zones Project in Scottsdale aims to take these lessons and transform the city through changes to infrastructure, policies, and social networks. Their goal is to make healthy behaviors the default and easy choice for Scottsdale residents.
Some ways they are influencing the community include working with grocery stores to identify Blue Zones approved food items, partnering with restaurants to put Blue Zones menu items, and organizing purpose workshops and volunteer opportunities. They also plan to have a major kickoff event in January 2024.
As we look to improve population health locally, the blue zones provide a model backed by decades of research. While genetics plays a role, it’s largely our lifestyles and environment that allow people to live vigorously past 100.
Companies like Cypress HomeCare, a provider of in-home care in Phoenix, can help by enabling seniors to age comfortably at home while staying engaged with family and community.