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Better Living and Longevity: Active Lifestyle, The Blue Zone Way

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Lifestyle, Medical Wellness

Following the previous article published on Better Living and Longevity: The Blue Zone Diet, this article introduces the key ideas behind the active lifestyle frequently depicted by the centenarians in the Blue Zones across Italy, Japan, Greece, the United States and Costa Rica.

Common Blue Zone factors include a plant-based diet, regular physical activity, strong social connections, and a sense of purpose. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that improve our physical health for better living, and perhaps, longevity.

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Health Lessons from the Six Blue Zones

Currently, the Blue Zones are identified in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan; Nuoro Province, Sardinia, Italy; the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California, United States and most recently, Singapore via National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner’s latest book: The Complete Blue Zones: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth.

Active Lifestyle, the Blue Zone Way

Physical activity is a norm in the daily life of the average Blue Zone resident. Whether it’s the gentle strolls in Okinawa or the gardening activities in Ikaria, regular, low-intensity physical activity is a common feature.

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Physical activities are not viewed as an unnecessary chore to be avoided but as an integral part of daily life, contributing to overall well-being and longevity benefits. Here are some key active lifestyle takeaways:

●  Daily Communal Activities
Whether it’s walking to the market, tending to a garden, or engaging in communal activities, Blue Zone residents delight in staying physically active. For example, in Okinawa, Japan, daily walks are a common sight, providing a gentle form of exercise that contributes to cardiovascular health and overall fitness.

●  Traditional Labour Practices
Many Blue Zone communities engage in traditional forms of manual labour that require physical effort. This can include farming, crafting, fishing and other manual activities that keep individuals physically engaged, allowing them to reap numerous health benefits of physical activity.

●  Emphasis on Low-Intensity Exercises
No one disputes that exercise is beneficial to one’s health. But is light, low-intensity exercises beneficial to health? Blue Zone residents often engage in physically sustainable, enjoyable activities that can be easily achieved. Research has shown that low-intensity exercises among older adults can promote health, with a lower risk of injuries and long-term sustainability.

Community-Based Physical Engagement
Physical activity in Blue Zones is not a solitary endeavour but a largely communal experience. Whether it’s social dancing, group singing, going to the market or participating in local festivals, community-based activities foster social connections with a sense of belonging with positive health benefits. A communal activity approach helps to keep one mentally and emotionally engaged with like-minded peers, contributing to one’s overall sense of wellbeing.

Other factors, such as a plant-based dietary regime, strong social connections, and a sense of purpose, also play a crucial role in promoting health and longevity in these populations. It’s also important to note that the Blue Zone diet is just one component of the overall lifestyle in these regions.

As the saying goes, “Something is better than nothing”, and this holds true for physical activity, especially in the largely sedentary world most of us live in today. To aid you in your journey towards better living through a more active lifestyle, do read World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ACTIVE, a package of effective interventions on physical activity.

In conclusion, the active lifestyles of Blue Zone communities demonstrate that physical activity is not a chore but an inherent part of a fulfilling life. By incorporating more physical movement into daily routines and embracing community-based activities, Blue Zone residents exemplify the positive impacts of an active lifestyle on active ageing and maintaining their quality of life through a physically active lifestyle.

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