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Jun 05, 2024

The idea of graceful ageing has truly taken root in the collective mind of people across the globe. In some parts of the world, there are people who seem to have mastered healthy living. These people are not just living longer but thriving into their autumn years. In these areas, dubbed ‘Blue Zones’, the average lifespan apparently significantly exceeds global norms. Age-related diseases and health problems are also remarkably low.

These regions include Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece, and the Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California.

Yet, while the debate about Blue Zones and the truth behind these people’s longevity rages on, there are important questions to ask… Have these people truly unlocked the secret to healthy ageing? Or are there a few basic guidelines we can all follow to live longer, happier lives?

Blue Zones – fact or fiction?

While the validity of Blue Zones has often been challenged, the consensus among everyone who has studied healthy living is that people who live longer and healthier didn’t win a genetic lottery. Instead, it is a combination of lifestyle factors, social structures, and environmental influences that promotes a longer, healthier life.

Here are five key factors to healthy living from people who live in these Blue Zones. While the debate on the validity on Blue Zones may not be solved tomorrow, you can incorporate these changes into your life today.

A plant-rich diet

One of the most striking commonalities among people who live in Blue Zones is their diet – it is rich in plant-based foods. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are all staples, and meat is eaten sparingly.

Studies have shown that people who eat plant-rich diets have lower risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Be a busy bee

In Blue Zones, exercise is not a scheduled activity but simply a part of daily life. Walking, gardening, and household chores are all great, low-intensity workouts. Shepherds, like those in Sardinia often walk long distances every day. Regular, low-intensity exercise improves your cardiovascular and muscular strength. Consistent movement helps keep you mobile, well into old age.

Keep your friends close

Outside of Blue Zone research, studies all over the world have found a strong correlation between social connectedness and mental health. Humans are social creatures. It’s “baked into our bones”. In the Seventh-day Adventist Blue Zone in Loma Linda, USA the residents prioritise spending time with family and fellow church members. Social connections help build a support network and positive interactions with the people we love and trust help reduce stress and promote a sense of belonging and purpose. No man is an island. Reach out to the people around you and support them as well.

A live worth living

Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes. In Japan, the concept of “ikigai,” a term that blends two words: “iki” meaning “to live,” and “gai” meaning “reason,” encapsulates the desire to live a life filled with joy and purpose. So, while our lives can never be stress-free, living with purpose negates negative moments, and can help you get through even the toughest moments without succumbing to stress.

Alcohol – in moderation

One of the most interesting findings is that people in Blue Zones don’t all abstain from alcohol. People in Sardinia enjoy the regional Cannonau wine, which is rich in antioxidants. It should be noted, however, that alcohol usually accompanies healthy meals as part of a social gathering. Mealtimes combine three of the essential aspects healthy living, so make them as great as you can.

In conclusion, while the existence of Blue Zones might still be up for debate, the essentials of healthy living will always stay the same. With a little effort and a lot of love for yourself, you can turn your home into your own Blue Zone, equipped with everything you need to live your happiest life.

With Bestmed’s Tempo wellness programme, you can live the life you love.

The Tempo Fitness Journey gives you access to one (1) face-to-face and a follow-up (face-to-face or virtual) consultation with Tempo partner biokineticists for fitness assessments and personalised exercise plans.

The Tempo Nutrition Journey gives you access to one (1) face-to-face and a follow-up (face-to-face or virtual) consultation with Tempo partner dietitians for nutritional assessments and personalised eating plans.

And the Tempo Emotional Wellbeing Journey gives you lifestyle related information that will help you deal with life’s changes and curveballs; and practical challenges that will enable you to practice the new skills you have to acquire to progress from your current emotional and mental state to your desired state.



Original Blue Zones Explorations. Blue Zones. Accessed 2024. Available here.

Lessons from the Blue Zones. National Library of Medicine. Accessed 2024. Available here.

Do “Blue Zones” Really Exist? Slate. 2023. Available here.

Social connectedness as a determinant of mental health: A scoping review. PubMed Central. 2022. Available here.

Social Connectedness 101: Social Connection and Mental Health. Social Creatures. Accessed 2024. Available here.

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