Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

Nine Blue Zone Habits to Optimize Your Life and Health Span

BLUE ZONES ARE AREAS IN WHICH PEOPLE live longer, more active, and healthier lives than anywhere else. Today we look at nine blue zone habits to optimize your health span.

In the blue zones, individuals share some common lifestyle and environmental characteristics that likely contribute to their longevity and extended health spans.

One of the first groups of centenarians studied by researchers was the Italian island of Sardinia. Soon, the scientists discovered other long-lived people in Okinawa (Japan), Ikaria (Greece), Nicoya (Costa Rica), and Loma Linda (California, USA).

“These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

― Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

What are the Blue Zones?

Blue Zones are areas of the world where people are known to live longer, healthier, and more active lives than anywhere else. Author and researcher Dan Buettner coined the term, identifying five regions where people live exceptionally long and healthy lives. These regions are:

  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California
Photo by Vasiliki Theodoridou on Unsplash

Buettner and his team identified common lifestyle factors among the populations in these regions, which they believe contribute to their longevity.

Nine blue zone habits to optimize your health

Here are nine blue zone habits that may help you optimize your health:

1. Move naturally.

Get regular, low-intensity physical activity throughout the day (for example, walking, gardening, or household chores).

2. Have a purpose.

Have a sense of purpose or reason for getting up in the morning that gives direction and meaning to life.

3. Downshift.

Manage stress through practices like meditation, napping, or even happy hour with friends.

4. Eat using the 80 percent rule.

Eat mindfully and stop eating when you are 80 percent full rather than until you feel stuffed.

5. Eat meals with a plant slant.

Eat a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.

6. Have wine at 5.

Enjoy a glass of wine with friends or family during a meal.

7. Belong.

Cultivate strong social connections and maintain relationships with family, friends, and community members.

8. Loved ones first.

Make family a priority and invest time and energy into nurturing relationships with loved ones.

9. Join the right tribe.

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who share your values and encourage healthy behaviors.

Photo by Stefanie Akkerman on Unsplash

My take — Blue zones

People living in Blue Zones live longer than those in other regions. Researchers have found that people in Blue Zones often live well into their 90s or even 100s and are more likely to reach old age in good health. For example, in Okinawa, Japan, the average life expectancy is over 84 years, while in the United States, it is around 78 years.

Studies of Blue Zone populations have found that these people live longer and experience lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

This health advantage is likely due to a combination of factors, including the nine described above.

People everywhere can improve their chances of living a longer, healthier life by adopting some healthy Blue Zone lifestyle habits.


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Michael Hunter, MD
Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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