In order to live a long life, we understand we’re supposed to eat and sleep well, exercise regularly, and strive for strong mental health. But there are still places in the world where people live much longer than average. These places are called Blue Zones, and there are five of them. One of the Blue Zones is Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, where Villa Estrella is located. Nicoya Peninsula has the world’s lowest rate of middle age mortality and the second highest concentration of male centenarians.
How are people in Blue Zones living longer than average lives? Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, bestselling author, and founder of the Blue Zones, set out with a team of researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists to search for the reasons why people are living longer in the Blue Zone pockets of the world. They found nine lifestyle habits in common. Here are the nine healthy lifestyle habits shared by people who’ve lived the longest.
- Move Naturally
Yes, exercising regularly definitely helps with living a longer life, but people in Blue Zones actually live in environments where they constantly move without purposefully exercising. They move without thinking about it. They grow gardens and are active by walking through their community rather than driving. They do manual labor around the house and don’t have desk jobs.
Nicoyans call it “plan de vida” which means “why I wake up in the morning.” Having a sense of purpose can add up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
- Down Shift
Stress is universal, and people in Blue Zones experience stress just like the rest of the world. As we know, stress leads to chronic inflammation and is associated with age-related diseases. What people in Blue Zones do differently to reduce stress is take time each day to fight stress, whether it be from taking a nap, meditating, praying, or enjoying happy hour.
- 80 Percent Rule
Research shows that it takes the stomach 20 minutes to tell the brain it’s full. Blue Zone inhabitants stop eating when they’re 80 percent full, that way they don’t overeat. They also eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then don’t eat again for the rest of the day.
- Plant Slant
Beans are the base of most centenarian diets, while meat – mostly pork – is eaten on average only five times per month. A mostly plant-based diet helps with longevity.
- Wine at 5
Aside from Adventists, people in Blue Zones drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Drinking one to two glasses of wine daily can add years to life. And no, saving them up to drink numerous glasses in one sitting doesn’t work.
Explore or recommit to a faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t matter, but studies show that attending faith-based services four times per month will add four to 14 years of life expectancy.
- Loved Ones First
Centenarians in Blue Zones put families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home, committing to a life partner, and investing in time and love with children and family.
- Right Tribe
The friends we choose have a huge impact on our wellbeing. The world’s longest-living people choose social circles that support a healthy lifestyle. Smoking, poor dieting, and even loneliness are all contagious. The friends we surround ourselves with shape our health, so choose ones that support a healthy lifestyle. This could be the most powerful way to add years to your life.
Villa Estrella offers special excursions to meet with local centenarians, giving guests an enlightening experience and knowledge about adopting Blue Zone life principles.