There are five regions on planet Earth—blue zones—where people seem to have mastered the secrets of successful aging. In fact, though these zones are dispersed around the world, their residents share many lifestyle characteristics. Incorporating their outlook on life as well as daily habits can give you a tremendous advantage as you plan your retirement future.
The Blue Zones: A History
The idea behind Blue Zones originated with an article first published in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology. Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain shared what they discovered from using demographic information to locate areas around the globe where people lived the longest.
Their work started in Sardinia, a region with the highest concentration of male centenarians. Since men usually have a shorter life expectancy than women, learning more about an area where men live such long lives was especially interesting to researchers. Pes and Poulain went on to identify other areas with extreme longevity and drew blue circles around them on a map.
Researcher Dan Buettner and his colleagues picked up where Pes and Poulain left off and went on to identify other regions with marked longevity. They designated them as Blue Zones. Each of these regions has its own unique claim to longevity that helped researchers learn more about aging.
The five Blue Zones around the world where people benefit from extreme longevity:
- Barbagia, a region of Sardinia: The region where Blue Zone research originated boasts the world’s greatest concentration of men who live to be 100. These male centenarians defy the odds and live longer, healthier lives.
- Ikaria, Greece: This Greek island in the Aegean Sea has two strong claims to Blue Zone research fame: it has the lowest rate of middle-aged mortality and the lowest rate of dementia.
- Loma Linda, California: The only region in the United States to make the list, Loma Linda is home to a high concentration of Seventh Day Adventists. They outlive their North American peers by an average of ten years.
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: In addition to having one of the lowest rates of middle age mortality, the Nicoya Peninsula has the second highest concentration of male centenarians.
- Okinawa, Japan: Among its many claims to longevity, most notable is the older women in this Japanese city. Women over 70 in Okinawa are the longest-living population anywhere in the world.
It would seem people in the Blue Zones have found the recipe for successful aging. They don’t just live long, they are generally happier in life and are fully engaged in their community. They also have lower rates of chronic disease as well as less incidence of mental health issues.
How Learning About the Blue Zones and Successful Aging Can Help You
Everyone wants to live a longer, healthier life. And the findings of the Blue Zones project—that lifestyle plays a far greater role than genetics in how long and how well we live—support the idea that successful aging is about your daily habits, as well as the company you keep.
That’s great news for older adults considering the benefits of a carefree and rewarding retirement in a senior living community. Whether it’s having easy access to an art class, relaxing with Tai chi, staying active in the walking club or enjoying nutritious and delicious meals in the company of good friends, finding a lifestyle with the programs, activities and services that promote the elements of successful aging is the goal for today’s seniors.
And a modern senior living community like Senior Star is a great place to start! Our Signature Programs ensure that all residents can find activities to nurture their overall well-being at any age. Based on our Seven Areas of Wellness, each of these programs promote health and well-being in one or more of the following areas: Brain Power, Exercise & Movement, Expression, Inner Strength, Nourishment & Health, Socialization, and Spirituality.
Stay tuned for an upcoming article listing the lifestyle traits of the Blue Zones: the Power 9. We’ll show how you can make them part of your healthy aging!
Living longer and living better is what Senior Star is all about. It will be our pleasure to share the amenities, programs, and activities that our residents enjoy in a typical day. Questions about senior living? Contact us to learn more. Download our free guide Step-by-Step: Successful Transitions to Senior Living for more helpful information.