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Blue Zones

In 2004, Dan Buettner worked with National Geographic to investigate where the people live a longer and measurably better quality life. They investigated several places in the world. Eventually they came up with five places in the world: Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Icaria in Greece and the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. In these regions, cardiovascular diseases, dementia and cancer are only seen in a fraction in comparison with other parts of the world. People who live in these areas, benefit a lot longer from a healthy life. Their conclusions are fascinating.

The population of these areas share the following similarities.
  • Move naturally. The long-living that have been studied, you will not encounter in a fitness center. They also don't run marathons. Their environment naturally nudges them to move around without thinking about it.
  • Purpose. Why do you get up in the morning? Know why you do what you do, adds an average of seven additional years to your life.
  • Stress leads to chronic inflammation. Inflammation that is associated with the major age-related diseases of our time such as dementia and heart and vascular diseases. The oldest people on earth have routines that protect them against the development of this type of stress.
  • 80% rule. "Hara hachi bu". The Japanese population of this island says this mantra before they start eating their meal. As a reminder to stop eating when they are full 80%.
  • Vegetable diet. The cornerstone of the diet of most centenarians? Beans and many other vegetables. Most people eat meat in moderation.
  • Red wine. Moderate drinkers live a longer life than non-drinkers. Especially if they drink socially.
  • Connection. Participating in meetings that have a certain belief, adds an average of 14 more years to your life expectancy.
  • Family first. Centennials put their family first. They pay attention to their aging parents and to their grandparents. They commit themselves to a life partner and they invest in their children.
  • Environment. The longest living were born or chose later in their lives to be in social circles that promote healthy behavior.
The lessons for all of us are obvious. If we would only take a few of the habits of the people from the Blue Zones, we can create a dramatic effect on our quality and length of our lives.

Watch the TED speech of Dan Buettner. For example, the book about the Bleu Zones is available here.


If you are interested to continue the conversation with us, or if you are interested in a program for your personal and professional development. Please read about our executive coaching programs here. Always fully personalized to your specific needs. 

Inspired on the habits of the people from the Japanese blue zone of Okinawa, we have created IKIGAI Cardgame. If you want to get more information about this tool or if you want to place your order, please click here.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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