Wouldn't you love to live in Sardinia, Italy, under the blazing sun and submerged in the bluest water in the world? Well it turns out that we all would! Sardinia is one of the 5 longest lived cultures on the planet. The explorer and author Dan Buettner discovered, together with National Geographic, that in these regions, also known as blue zones, a surprising number of inhabitants live to be over 100 years old; and that the rates of coronary heart disease, cancer and other common diseases related to old age are significantly lower than the rest of the world. Okinawa (Japan), the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica), Ikaria Island (Greece) and Loma Linda (California), are the other four longevity paradises.
The 5 blue zones are scattered across different countries and continents, each with diverse cultures and traditions, however, they all share certain healthy habits that make them coincide in the same type of balanced and happy lifestyle. According to Buettner and the rest of his research team, there are 9 pillars that centenarians incorporate into their daily lives to achieve longevity. These include having a defined life purpose, excellent interpersonal and family relationships, staying active during the day, taking time to de-stress, and establishing a healthy diet, amongst others.
Bearing that in mind, and with hopes of giving you a closer look into the centenarian lifestyle, we have created the 5 DAY BLUE ZONE LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE, a fun and easy way to incorporate healthy practices into your daily routine:
DAY 1- Natural movement: The first challenge will be to perform all your chores and errands for the day without the help of technology or mechanical conveniences of any kind (including your car).
A fundamental part of the "blue zone" lifestyle is to move your body naturally during the day. That is, walking to your destination, doing home gardening, doing manual labor, and other forms of incidental physical activity. The oldest people in the world are not characterized for enrolling in gyms or being expert crossfitters, on the contrary, they live in environments that force them to exercise routinely, but without realizing it or planning it.
DAY 2 - Discover your Ikigai: Take 30 minutes out of your day to complete this activity, which will help you take the first step towards a purposeful life.
Knowing the reason why you wake up every morning is one of the key secrets to achieving a happy life. This, according to Okinawans, is called having "ikigai," and it can add an additional seven years to your life expectancy. If you want to know more about this topic, we suggest the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret To A Long and Happy Life, written by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles; It is a 10/10 and ideal for anyone looking to give meaning and passion to their everyday life.
DAY 3 - Go green for a day: Do not consume any type of meat for 24 hours, fill your body with plant-based foods and if possible avoid any product derived from animals (eggs, milk, cheese, etc.). Also, don't eat more than your body asks for.
Grains and legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) make up most part of centenarian diets. Then come vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Meat is consumed maximum 5 times a month and portions are small. In the same way, when it comes to eating the oldest people in the world apply the 80% rule: they stop eating when they are 80% full, feeling completely satisfied, but without a heavy stomach.
DAY 4 - Take time to unwind: Incorporate a relaxation technique into your routine of the day. It should be something that you don't frequently do, but that you know will help control stress levels. That is, if you take a nap every day to relax, instead of doing that (or additionally) today you are going to meditate, do yoga, or even have a glass of wine with friends.
Like the rest of the world, people who live in blue zones are also prone to stress. However, they have developed certain rituals to lower the intensity of their daily routines. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians nap, and Sardinians enjoy happy hours.
DAY 5 - Strengthen your social and family circle: Dedicate a part of your day to get in touch with your friends and family. Ask them how they are, empathize with them, and remind them how much they mean to you. At the same time, analyze the people you are closest to and identify those that don’t give off good vibes, and that on the contrary, provoke negative emotions. It is important to recognize that some relationships can be toxic, and it is best to remove them from your life rather sooner than later.
Having close and strong family connections - with spouses, parents, grandparents, and grandchildren - is common among Blue Zone centenarians. Likewise, the oldest people in the world choose to associate with people who support healthy behaviors, who “infect” them with happiness, and not with harmful habits. In this way, they attract the right tribe.