Living a Blue Zones Lifestyle
Living longer -- and spending more of those years healthy -- is a primary goal for many people interested in active senior living. The problem? There is so much conflicting information about diet, exercise, and other factors that contribute to long lives. The solution? A game-changing formula called The Blue Zone lifestyle, developed by longevity guru Dan Buettner is creating healthy outcomes in communities across the country. Learn how residents are living a Blue Zones lifestyle with Del Webb and experiencing better health and more personal satisfaction.
What is a Blue Zones Lifestyle?
For his best-selling book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, longevity expert Dan Buettner led a team of researchers to communities around the globe studying the lifestyles of the longest-lived and healthiest people on the planet.
The goal was to get past easy answers about how much kale to eat or how many minutes a day to exercise and look deeper, at an overall system of diet, lifestyle, outlook, and coping that could result in longer lives and better health.
What do Blue Zones Have in Common?
According to Buettner’s research, the secret to longevity encompasses community, lifestyle, and spirituality. Buettner’s Power Nine principles give the reader guidance in what habits to adopt, how to eat, how to think, and how to create social relationships that support positive behavior and attitudes.
Besides healthy activity and eating habits, Buettner found that people in Blue Zones generally practice some form of meditation, have a sense of purpose, and create a sense of belonging by involvement in community or religious activities. These behaviors are linked to both longer lives and more active lives with better health.
One of Buettner’s primary ways of fostering a sense of community in modern life is by developing a sense of personal purpose, then communicating that purpose to others. This can create closer bonds with family and friends and help you become more connected to your community through work, charitable initiatives, and active participation in group activities.
Want to create more connection in your own life? Consider joining a book club, a wine and dine group, or even reconnecting with friends from your past through social media. In addition, you’ll find a whole new community of friends when you take on a new volunteer job, continue lifelong learning at your local college, or begin a new retirement hobby.
Buettner found that healthier lifestyle choices involve less meat, less processed food, a marginal decrease in calories, and a more active adult lifestyle. In his book, he emphasizes natural forms of movement that can be incorporated into your daily routine on a regular basis.
Healthy lifestyles don’t have to involve big changes. Find ways to eat less meat and processed food by taking a healthy cooking class with friends. Find ways to stay active naturally, through gardening, housework, or nature walks. Create habits that incorporate healthy behaviors into your life in pleasant ways, rather than feeling like you’re being punished by gym time.
Buettner found a significant connection between religious practice and longevity. He found that this manifested itself through significantly increased social interactions, stronger coping mechanisms, and spiritual practices like meditation and prayer. He suggests participating in your current religious community or exploring a new tradition if you do not currently have a faith community.
Whether you express your spirituality in a church, temple, synagogue, mosque, or through group meditation and other practices, you’ll find that getting in touch with your spiritual side has a host of benefits -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
How are Del Webb Communities Embracing the Blue Zones Lifestyle?
The Blue Zones Project is a large-scale health initiative in Southwest Florida bringing the principles of the Blue Zones lifestyle to residents throughout the region. Del Webb’s Tidewater community is a 55+ community in Estero FL that is the hub of Blue Zones lifestyle initiatives.
Tidewater Lifestyle Director Michelle Kithcart plans monthly Blue Zones-aligned social, educational, and fitness activities to keep residents motivated and build the sense of community that is so central to Buettner’s research findings.
In addition to community initiatives, Tidewater staff members participate by adopting Blue Zones practices geared toward healthy lifestyle, volunteering, and meditation.
“To align our staff with the community’s mission, we knew it was time to practice what we were preaching,” said Kithcart. “We want to inspire our residents to live life to the fullest.”
Wherever you are in your health and wellness journey, it’s never too early, or too late, to start to adopt Blue Zone lifestyle habits that can help you live longer and enjoy better health. For Del Webb community residents around the country, embracing a healthier, more peaceful, and more connected life is as close as their front door.
Contributed to The 55+ Society by Christy Murdock Edgar
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