Messakti beach, Armenistis, IkariaIkaria, Greece

I don’t live in Okinawa, Japan, Ikaria, Greece, Sardinia, Italy, Nicoya, Costa Rica or Loma Linda, California. People in these communities often live well beyond 100 years and those places have become known as “Blue Zones.” To qualify as a Blue Zone, these communities also have to be largely free of afflictions like heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes.

What are they doing right? It doesn’t seem to be as eating kale, or even about food alone, though food is a factor. Researchers study people who live in those Blue Zones and they do find some overlap in the Venn diagram of longevity.

They move their bodies a lot. This doesn’t mean going to the gym or jogging, but walking and moving rather than sitting and typing blog posts on a laptop.

They have friends and inter-generational social circles and those people also embrace and reinforce healthy behaviors. They are part of communities. Some are religious ones. (Loma Linda has a large population of Seventh-day Adventists.) They are family people.

Most drink a bit of alcohol but not more than once a day (and not in Loma Linda).

They eat smaller meals more often, mostly plants, and no refined sugar or processed foods.

I remember hearing this story back in 2008 when the original book was published, and now there are a number of Blue Zone books and guides.

On this cold, rainy weekend in Paradelle, sitting in Ikaria with a glass of wine, surrounded by family and friends, and a table of Mediterranean food to graze upon sounds pretty sweet.

A long, healthy life is no accident. Not much you can do about those genes, but bad habits can be changed with effort. Of course, this isn’t a new year resolution. It’s a whole bunch of resolutions.

Dan Buettner, who wrote the original book, gives what might be seen as a modest result if you can adopt the Blue Zone lifestyle – you may live up to a decade longer. As the end nears, a single year would sound pretty great.

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