9 Wellness Tips from the Blue Zones

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I think it’s safe to say that we’d all like to live long, healthy lives. Looking to the regions in the world that have the highest rates of longevity, also known as the blue zones, we find valuable wellness tips that we can adapt to our day-to-day lives. What we learn from these unique regions can help us lead healthier lives, and also teach us how to live consciously.

What are Blue Zones?

The term Blue Zone was coined in 2005 when National Geographic journalist Dan Buettner found that there are five regions throughout the world that all have significantly higher rates of longevity— meaning that people not only live longer, but they’re living healthier longer, keeping their sense of independence and life quality long into old age.

The five regions are Okinawa Japan, Nicoya Peninsula Costa Rica, Icaria Island in Greece, Barbagia Sardinia, and Loma Linda California. He found that although these regions are different in landscape and geographical location, but they’re all champions in living consciously with 9 key behavioral traits that tie them together. From these 9 characteristics, there are some key wellness tips that we can bring into our own lives, regardless of geographical location.

The 9 Blue Zone Wellness Tips:


The people living in the blue zones don’t exercise more than the average, they don’t lift heavy weights, join hit classes, or complete an Iron man. Rather, their lifestyles have movement naturally built into them. They get their physical fitness from walking, working in their gardens, and doing housework the old-fashioned way.

To bring this wellness habit into your life, try to find ways to move naturally throughout the week. If you live in a city, can you walk to the grocery store instead of taking your car or hopping on the metro? Can you use a push mower rather than one you sit on to cut the grass in your yard? Finding little ways to keep yourself active without having to schedule it into your day is the key wellness tip to take from this blue zone characteristic.


Something we shouldn’t ever take for granted is the power of having a reason to get out of bed in the morning. This is something that the cultures in the blue zones put a big emphasis on. In Japan’s Okinawa, it’s called “Ikigai” and on the Nicoya Peninsula it’s called “plan de Vida” but all in all it boils down the having a life purpose that drives you to get out of bed each morning.

Having a sense of purpose is critical for mental well-being and it’s a fundamental pillar of conscious living. It’s been estimated that knowing what your sense of purpose is can add up to seven years onto your lifespan— that’s powerful. This idea of a life’s purpose helps reduce the feeling of complacency which often leads to anxiety and depression.

It may sound like a simple wellness tip, but finding your sense of purpose can be a journey. To introduce a sense of purpose into your day-to-day try taking the advice from the book Ikigai, which goes in-depth about the concept of purpose as a way to live a more fulfilling, longer, and healthy life. It says to find the intersection between what you like, what the world needs, and what you’re good at. When you find what fits into all of those categories, you’ve found your reason to get up in the morning.


Stress is a part of life— there’s not a single place in the world where people don’t stress at all. What’s different about Blue Zones is how they handle stress— each of the 5 regions has a daily ritual of sorts that helps them cope with the normal daily stresses. They don’t do it in the same way, but they all help bring people into the moment, slow down, shed some stress, and enjoy life. The Ikarian people take a nap, Sardinians have an after-work drink, and The Okinawa population spends time every day honoring their ancestors.

The wellness tip that comes from the idea of downshifting is to build a daily ritual into your life that helps you release the stress that accumulates during the day. This can be doing 30 minutes of yoga, going for a walk, calling a friend, or anything that brings you joy and allows you to be fully present in the moment.

While stress is a normal part of life, excess stress leads to chronic inflammation, which is linked to every single age-related disease. By incorporating a daily stress-release ritual into your life, you’ll not only be happier on a daily basis, but in the long run, it’s much better for your well-being.

80% RULE

We all know that food has a large impact on our overall wellness— that’s why we see all types of diets become mainstream, but what if it’s not necessarily what we eat, but how we eat that makes the difference?

One tip for wellness that we can take from the blue zones is the 80% rule, which means to stop eating when you’re 80% full. It’s a key overlap that in all the blue zones, they never eat until they’re stuffed to the brim, but rather eat till they’re just satisfied.

Adopting this rule means changing the way that we approach food— rather than food being a coping mechanism for stress or boredom, or out of pure gluttony, it becomes a life enhancer. This way of approaching food is more mindful, rather than scarfing your food down you take the time to celebrate meal time. Enjoying each bite consciously.


Another food-focused wellness tip we can take from the blue zones is to eat more plants. Now before my carnivores sign off, this doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to meat altogether. The centenarians of the blue zones still eat meat, they just eat it less than other areas of the world— on average around 5 times a month. They also eat smaller portions (keeping in mind the previous wellness tip).

Now you might be wondering if they don’t eat meat— what’s the base of their protein? Beans are the foundation of the blue zone diets. Each region eats a slightly different bean, from black and fava beans to soy and lentils, but they each know the importance of eating a healthy amount of legumes.

To bring this blue zone approach into your life, you can start by cutting down your meat to once or twice a week— but don’t over-do it on the days you decide to eat meat. Make sure your portions are small, and you’re getting high-quality cuts of meat that are lean and ideally organic.


This was one of the wellness tips that I found to be the most shocking. The people in all five of the blue zone moderately drink. There’s been a lot of talk about sobriety for wellness lately— so this goes against the case for cutting out alcohol altogether, as the research finds that moderate drinkers actually outlive non-drinkers.

The key is that they don’t binge drink or overdo it. Preferably this drink is red wine, which is high in antioxidants and you have one or two glasses a day max. The blue zones always pair this drink with food or friends— which means you can kill two birds with one stone, by using this as a time to downshift.

This is a simple wellness tip to adopt, make it a point to slow down and enjoy a glass of wine with friends or something small to nibble on a couple of times a week.


Have you ever heard that you are the sum of your closest friends? There’s something to be said about this logic, and the blue zones definitely live by it. The idea is that you should surround yourself with people who inspire you or people that you would like to become more like. In blue zones, people chose or were born into groups that support their healthy behaviors— so actually, the people we surround ourselves with can have a huge effect on our overall well-being. Things like obesity, happiness, and even loneliness can rub off on the people around you.

This might be one of the harder wellness tips to adopt because changing your tribe isn’t like changing your clothes— especially if you have deep relationships with people who aren’t great influences on your life.

What I’ve found to work for adopting this is to slowly start spending more time with the people in your life that are inspiring you in a positive way, and naturally, you’ll have less time for the people who have a negative influence.

If you don’t feel like you have anyone in your life that you would consider “the right tribe” try to get out of your comfort zone and go to events or places where you could meet people of similar mindsets, like a yoga class if you want to be more active and spiritual for example.


Like having a life purpose, it was found that feeling like there is something bigger that we all belong to has tremendous wellness benefits. In the blue zone research when they interviewed 263 centenarians, only five of them didn’t belong to a faith-based community. The research found that attending a faith-based service four times per month can add anywhere from 4-14 years onto your life.

This is not to say you should join a religion in the name of wellness, but developing your spiritual side could be an alternative. Personally, I don’t consider myself a religious person at all. I do however subscribe to the ideals of the spiritual side of yoga, so for me going to my yoga classes is not simply a moment for physical wellness but also a moment for deepening my spirituality. You can find what fits into your life and what you are comfortable with.


The final wellness tip that we can take from the blue zones is to put our loved ones first. In each of the blue zones, they make time for their families and closest friends. They do this by making time for their families each day and prioritizing things like committing to a life partner. The key is that when they spend time with their loved ones they spend quality time— not with their noses in their phones.

To bring this wellness tip into your life, find ways to make more time for your family and closest friends. This could be stacked with other wellness tips, like the 80% rule by making a thoughtful dinner where you sit down together or the wine at five tips where you enjoy a glass of wine together throughout the week.

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