blue zones logoBlue Zones is an organization that knows just about everything about leading a happy, healthy, and above all, long life. Its leaders teamed up with National Geographic to research and narrow down the most important factors to longevity, so even the average person can become a centenarian.

Join Tony Buettner, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Blue Zones and nationally-renowned speaker, at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2 in Hoover Auditorium to learn more about Blue Zones and how this research relates to Lakeside.

Their adventures to foreign, isolated places are chronicled in The Blue Zones Solution. Their team pinpointed five locations with the highest amount of centenarians: Barbagia region of Sardinia; Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Okinawa, Japan.

Then, after visiting these locations, interviewing individuals and observing their lifestyles, the team came up with nine common denominators across each region, which they call the Power 9®, according to their website,

Blue Zones show that people living and thriving past 100 don’t over exert themselves with exercise – they incorporate it naturally into their days by tending to gardens and cleaning their homes without the assistance of mechanical tools.

A simple but important part of life, knowing the reason to wake up and get out of bed in the morning is hugely important, adding an average of seven years to a person’s lifespan.

Stress can be a major negative influence on life expectancy, and it’s important to deal with it effectively. Luckily, there are simple solutions. Centenarians have routines to help them down shift, including remembering ancestors, praying or napping.

Interestingly enough, observations from the Blue Zones team show that centenarians remind themselves before a meal to only eat until they’re about 80% full. This is the trick to maintaining weight rather than gaining or losing unnecessarily.

As opposed to the American style of having meat at the center of meals, centenarians tend to obtain their protein from and focus meals around beans. Meat is only consumed about five times a month, and only in portions of three to four ounces.

Having some sort of faith-based community or regular ritual is also a key part of living a longer life, adding between 4-14 years. While there are some centenarians who do not attend faith-based services, the majority went on a weekly basis or four times a month.

Family is a priority for the long lived. It’s common for grandparents to live either nearby or even under

the same roof as children. Loving and caring for their children means they’re more likely to pay it back when the parents are getting older. Centenarians also gain an extra three years from marriage.

Life habits and attitudes are contagious, and the people surrounding each other pass on everything from happiness to loneliness. Centenarians form lifelong bonds with friends who are on track to live as long as they are, which helps maintain their own healthy habits.