What does it take to live to long life, and to stay healthy and active even in your old age? After more than a decade of research, Dr. Dan Buettner discovered several Blue Zones® around the world where people live the longest and healthiest. This book presents his research journey and the longevity lessons learned from centenarians in the Blue Zones®. In The Blue Zones summary, we’ll outline some of these key findings, and how you can apply them to your own life. For the full details and tips, do get a copy of the book, or get a detailed overview with our complete book summary bundle.
The concept of a “blue zone” originated from Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain when they found Sardinia to have the highest concentration of male centenarians in the world. Building on this work, Dan Buettner and his team of researchers, demographers and specialists identified and researched other longevity hotspots around the world. Blue Zones® now refer to the environment and lifestyle of the world’s longest-lived people.
In this book, Buettner shares his research journey, including (i) how the Blue Zones were identified and (ii) the interviews, observations, and analyses for each region. After considering all possible factors—such as diet, mindset, culture, lifestyle, environment and even genetic lineage—the team uncovered 9 lifestyle habits (the Power 9®) across all these Blue Zones.
Overview of the 5 Blue Zones®
The 5 Blue Zone regions are: Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and Ikaria (Greece).
In each Blue Zone®, a larger percentage of people live to 100 years old and beyond, the population remains active in their 80s and 90s, and they don’t typically suffer from the common degenerative diseases found in other parts of the industrialized world. In the book, Dan Buettner documents the research process, observations and interviews in each of the blue zones they visited, to give us a vivid picture of how the people think, live and interact with one another. Do check out our full 15-page summary for an overview of the key findings/ insights in each of the 5 Blue Zones.
The Power 9®: Creating your Personal Blue Zone
Although the centenarians in each Blue Zone® had different environments, lifestyle and habits, there were 9 common denominators (the “Power 9”) that stood out:
Here are the Power 9® in a nutshell:
- Move Naturally: Make physical activity (e.g. walking, gardening) a part of your daily routine so you don’t have to think about. There’s no need for intensive workouts.
- 80% Rule: Stop eating when you’re 80% full. The 20% difference can decide if you gain or lose weight.
- Plant Slant: Eat more beans, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Meat should be consumed in small amounts, if at all.
- Wine Consumption: Drink 1-2 glasses of red wine daily with meals and/or friends.
- Purpose: Have a purpose in life. It makes you happier, healthier and helps you live longer.
- Down Shift: Build stress-relieving rituals into your routine so your body can recover.
- Belong: Be part of a spiritual community to improve your well-being and life expectancy.
- Loved Ones First: Make family a priority. Invest in your children so they may reciprocate your love and care.
- Right Tribe: Be surrounded by close friends and people who’ll reinforce your Blue Zone® values & habits.
Many of us have been convinced by the diet and health industries that we can become healthier, slimmer and live longer by taking certain pills/supplements or doing the right exercises. But, it simply isn’t enough to use short-term fixes to tackle individual elements. The secret to health and longevity is to integrate all 9 elements habitually into your life so they can reinforce one another over the long term. This in turn requires an ecosystem (e.g. culture, purpose, faith, community) to support a healthy lifestyle.
Applying the Power 9: Create your Personal Blue Zone
In our complete version of The Blue Zones summary (get complete summary here), we’ll explain in detail how to apply the Power 9 to your life. Broadly, the steps are:
• Take the free test on the Blue Zones website to assess your current vs potential life expectancy.
• Set up a personal Blue Zone in your home to create a conducive environment for pro-longevity practices. You’ll need to minimally sustain these practices for 5-12 weeks for new habits to be formed. By making a one-time effort to create the right environment, you can improve your chances of building and sustaining the desired habits.
• For each of the 9 Blue Zone® lessons, Buettner has created a list of strategies tailored for industrialized societies (which are also included in our full book summary). Just pick up to 3 activities that’re the easiest for you, get an accountability buddy and do them for 12 weeks to form new lifestyle habits.
Other Details in “The Blue Zone” book
The bulk of the book is written in a chronological, story-telling style with detailed accounts of the research team’s observations and interviews with the centenarians and their families/communities. This gives you a vivid idea of how the people in the Blue Zones® think and live. Buettner also includes snippets of interesting food/health facts, and transcripts of his interviews with various scientists/experts on topics such as life expectancy, exercise, diet, supplements, and hormone therapy. The book ends with a list of questions for reflection. Do get a copy of the book for the full details, get our summary bundle for The Blue Zones for an overview of the various tips and insights, or check out more resources/details at www.bluezones.com.
Adopt longevity practices to live longer, stay healthy and active even in old age!