A new formula for wellbeing takes a page from Blue Zones, where residents are living longer and feeling anything but blue.

Life longevity is a common statistic that countries, communities, and cultures often point to as an indicator of health and happiness. In a new age of wellness, conversations about health are becoming more holistic and integrated, centered around moderation, collective care, and sustainable habits. Research about Blue Zones—communities around the world with extreme life longevity and overall health—is linking holistic, community-focused lifestyles with longer than the average life expectancies, offering a roadmap for a new path to wellbeing.

Longevity tourism

According to a Blue Zone report, residents of Sardinia, California, Costa Rica, Greece and Japan have the highest life spans globally. Locals in these locations live to be at least 90, if not 100, and have significantly reduced rates of heart disease and dementia. Looking for a new key to ultimate wellness, many are traveling to Blue Zones in order to enjoy, relax, and adopt elements of these health-boosting lifestyles.

WEB_080220_GREECE_0004
WEB_051029_OKINAWA_4696-copy
WEB_051029_OKINAWA_5686
Top left: Greece. Right and bottom: Okinawa, Japan. Courtesy of Blue Zones, LLC

This is leading to a rise in longevity tourism: Blue Zone hotels and communities are advertising their lifestyles as an experience for tourists to witness and learn from during their stay. At the Halekulani Hotel in Okinawa, Japan advertises “Secrets of Longevity” retreats for visitors. In Puglia, Italy, travelers can indulge in a luxury “Longevity Program” with Blue Zone cooking lessons, exercises, and social events.

Blue Zone diets

WEB_080220_GREECE_0617
Greek herbs. Blue Zones, LLC

Cooking is in fact a prominent factor in Blue Zone health. Mediterranean diets are especially popular in a few of the locations, especially in Greece, where sea fennel is a particularly healthy staple known for its brain function support. All of the locations, however, support a plant-based diet and include carbohydrate and milk products only in moderation.

WEB_IMG_1301
Herbal teas, Okinawa, Japan. Blue Zones, LLC
WEB_McLain_BlueZones-18484

Teas are also an important element of Blue Zone diets, many of which are high in antioxidants and are brewed with herbs that have a variety of health benefits. Japanese green tea and matcha are often associated with heart health, while chan seeds, popular in Costa Rican cuisine, are helpful in lowering blood pressure. Made from Sideritis plants, Greek Mountain tea is thought to promote brain health, and milk thistle tea from Sardinia is known to protect against certain types of cancers.

Community care

WEB_0662800201
Okinawa, Japan. Blue Zones, LLC

The Blue Zone emphasis on community and a greater purpose is an important driving factor that slows aging and maintains a collective happiness amongst residents. Participating in group-focused exercises such as walking, dancing, or even gardening doubles as social interaction and regular, moderate physical movement in these communities. Older citizens who lived with a sense of belonging and purpose had fewer health-related issues compared to those in other environments, making these locations global hot spots for retirees.

WEB_4006202702
WEB_McLain_BlueZones-16453
WEB2_090413_IKARIA_0911-copy
Top left and bottom: Greece. Blue Zones, LLC

Living according to these healthy habits of collective care is an important element to longevity in the Blue Zones. Vacationers, residents, and retirees alike are looking for rewarding excursions to embark on in the months to come. Following a heightened focus on health, consumers are looking for more holistic, integrated healthy lifestyles, and Blue Zones offer a formula for that.

Related content:

Main image of Greece, courtesy of Blue Zones, LLC.