I met with Jason Maki from the Blue Zones project recently, and I have to admit that I am shocked! How is it that so few people know about this, including me, when an organization like this exists?
“Live Longer and Better!” – That is their motto and they are helping so many people to achieve this. Their goal is to change the way that a community moves, thinks, eats, and works with community governments, businesses, schools, etc. They focus on everything from cleaning up parks to improving the places that people work and the results have been dramatic! In the first city project (Albert Lea, Minnesota) the citizens added 2.9 years to their lifespans and healthcare claims decreased by 49%, while participating businesses saw a decline in absenteeism of 21%. That’s huge!
Grants Pass applied in 2016 to become a Blue Zones location and we were selected in 2017, with a three year contract that is more than halfway done. Their initiatives cover the zip codes 97526 and 97527 and range from cooking classes and purpose workshops, to moais and walking school buses. What is that, you say? Well I asked the same thing after being taken aback at my son’s elementary school when they used the term ‘walking school buses.’ It’s a collection of teachers and students that walk around the surrounding neighborhood helping kids to walk to school – promoting independence while being safe, and exercise at the same time. A moai is similar, but for adults. You can learn more about these opportunities by vising the Blue Zones activities page here.
While meeting with Jason I learned that the Blue Zones Project believes in nine basic principles that lead to a longer and healthier life:
1. Move Naturally. Moving naturally throughout the day — walking, gardening, doing housework — is a core part of the Blue Zones lifestyle.
2. Purpose. The Okinawans call it ikigai and the Nicoyans call it plan de vida. Knowing why you wake up in the morning makes you healthier, happier, and adds up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
3. Down Shift. Stress is part of life, but Blue Zones centenarians have stress-relieving rituals built into their daily routines. Adventists pray, Ikarians nap, and Sardinians do happy hour.
4. 80% Rule. People in Blue Zones areas stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full and eat their smallest meal in the early evening.
5. Plant Slant. Beans are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains round out the rest of the diet and meat is eaten in small amounts.
6. Wine @ 5. Moderate but regular consumption of wine (with friends and/or food) is part of the Blue Zones lifestyle.
7. Belong. Being part of a faith-based community adds four to 14 years to life expectancy.
8. Loved Ones First. Having close and strong family connections with spouses, parents, grandparents, and grandchildren is common with Blue Zones centenarians.
9. Right Tribe. The world’s longest lived people have close friends and strong social networks.
Team Senior is really looking forward to partnering with the Blue Zones Project in 2019, bringing you lots of opportunities to benefit from workshops, exercise, nutritional classes, etc.
Keep an eye out! And visit their website for more information in the meantime!