Chances are, at some point, you've seen a TV show or read an article about a place in the world where everyone seems to live to be 100. How do they do it? These places, known as "Blue Zones," share some common health habits that could be the key to unlocking a longer life.
What are Blue Zones?
Blue Zones are five areas in the world that have been studied and shown to have the highest population of centenarians (people who live to 100). These areas, also called "longevity hotspots," are:
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Loma Linda, California
Dan Buettner, a lifelong explorer and educator, founded Blue Zones based on demographic work done by researchers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain. The name Blue Zones came about because Pes and Poulain drew concentric blue circles on a map highlighting these villages of extreme longevity and began referring to the area inside the circle as the "blue zone." Buettner details this work in his New York Times bestseller, "The Blue Zones Solution."
Blue Zone lifestyles for longer lives
Now, the question everyone is asking is: How do the people in Blue Zones live so long? According to Dan Buettner and his team, this longevity can be attributed to the "Power 9" health habits:
1. Natural movement
Those who live in Blue Zones don't follow structured, high-intensity exercise programs. Instead, they incorporate movement into their everyday routines through activities such as gardening, housework and walking.
Knowing your calling (why you wake up in the morning) can add up to seven years to your life expectancy!
Everyone experiences stress, even people in Blue Zones, but these cultures have times built into the day for stress relief. These include activities such as praying, remembering ancestors, taking a nap or having a "happy hour" to do something they enjoy.
4. 80% rule
As a general rule, those who live in Blue Zones stop eating when their stomach is about 80% full. That feels somewhere between hungry and stuffed.
5. Plant slant
People who live in Blue Zones eat mostly plant-based foods, including a serving of legumes each day.
6. Wine at 5
These populations typically enjoy one to two alcoholic drinks per day with friends and food. If you incorporate this into your life, be sure to keep drinking in moderation and only do so in the company of trusted others.
Blue Zone research showed most centenarians belonged to a faith-based community, and that attending a service four times a month could add 4-14 years to your life expectancy.
8. Loved ones first
Residents in these territories put family first and keep them close throughout their lives.
9. Right tribe
Those who live in Blue Zones have a close group of friends who promote their healthy behaviors and serve as support during life's many milestones.
Can you create your own Blue Zone?
The Power 9 are habits are to incorporate into your long-term lifestyle, rather than for just a short period of time. They reflect not just eating and exercise routines, but also the environment, spiritual needs and people with whom we surround ourselves.
With each aspect of the Power 9 you incorporate into your life, you move closer to creating your own Blue Zone.
The 2022 launch of a Blue Zones Project in Jacksonville represents the beginning of a multi-year collaborative effort that involves the entire community working together toward one common goal: to support and build a culture of community health and well-being.
"The start of Blue Zones Jacksonville's transformation period in 2023 is a monumental moment for our city," said Michael A. Mayo, DHA, FACHE,, president and CEO of Baptist Health. "We're charting a path forward to affect true policy and systems change that will ensure Jacksonville is a place people not only live but thrive for generations to come."
Baptist Health is committed to helping people live healthier lives
Blue Zones Project in Jacksonville is supported by a strong coalition of public and private partners, including Baptist Health. The Y Healthy Living Centers also bring health and wellness programs from Baptist Health out into our Northeast Florida communities.