Longevity Researcher Shares Insights from Blue Zones
For the past 20 years, Dan Buettner has been traveling across the world to study the five Blue Zones – areas in which people live exceptionally long lives: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California. He has interviewed 263 people ages 100 or older to discover what helps them live a long and healthy life. Buettner found that these longevity champions follow a set of nine principles, which he calls the “Power 9.”

### 1. Move Naturally
According to Buettner, the world’s longest-lived people don’t engage in structured exercise as much as they live in environments that encourage daily physical activity. They rely on activities like gardening, walking, and doing manual housework.

### 2. Purpose
Buettner discovered that residents in Blue Zones have a strong sense of purpose, which the Okinawans call “ikigai” and the Nicoyans call “plan de vida.” This sense of purpose, beyond just work, contributes to a longer life.

### 3. Downshift
Living a relaxed and stress-free lifestyle is a key factor in the long lives of people in Blue Zones.

### 4. The 80% Rule
People in the Blue Zones practice the Confucian mantra “hara hachi bu,” which reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full.

### 5. Plant Slant
A diet high in beans and low in meat is a cornerstone of the Blue Zones centenarians’ nutritional habits.

### 6. Wine at 5 p.m.
Moderate and regular alcohol consumption, especially wine, is a common practice among Blue Zones inhabitants.

### 7. Belong
Belonging to a faith-based community and regularly attending services is associated with greater life expectancy.

### 8. Put Loved Ones First
Centenarians keep aging family members nearby, commit to a life partner, and dedicate time and love to their children to increase overall life expectancy.

### 9. Find the Right Tribe
Buettner found that the longest-lived people choose social circles that support healthy behaviors, creating tight-knit groups that commit to each other for life.

Following these nine principles is not a guarantee of reaching 100 years old, but it’s a proven path to adding more happy years to one’s life. Buettner is an explorer, longevity researcher, National Geographic Fellow, and the author of the best-selling books “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” and “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.”