There are several “Blue Zones” around the world where longevity isn’t uncommon.
These areas prioritize healthy living, making it easier for residents to make healthy choices. This includes places like Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.
What if you could do that for your own employees and workplace?
In this article, we share the nine Blue Zones “secrets” of living a long, healthy life, and how you can bring those elements right into your workplace.
What are Blue Zones?
Author and National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner coined the term after doing research on where people live the longest and healthiest lives.
Essentially, it’s where people live to be 100 or older.
Researchers have studied the world's longest living people to find out what they do differently than the rest of us. A Danish Twin Study found that only 20% of how long the average person lives is actually genetic.
Blue Zones are the places where people are thriving with healthy living well into their 100s thanks to a certain set of principles each area holds dear. These specific key traits that each of these geographic regions have in common are called the Power 9.
The 9 key elements to a Blue Zone include:
- Move Naturally: Moving without thinking about it
- Purpose: Knowing your “why”
- Down Shift: Finding moments to decompress
- 80% Rule: Stop eating when you’re 80% full
- Plant Slant: Eating more plant-based meals
- Wine at 5: A glass a day with friends or food
- Right Tribe: Surrounding yourself with a healthy social circle
- Loved Ones First: Centenarians put family first
- Belong: Finding a faith-based community
Now, communities across the U.S. are working with the Blue Zones Project to create healthier places to live, work, and play.
Some of the results:
- Spencer, Iowa: 50% of city workers were able to eliminate one disease risk factor
- Beach Cities, California: Reduced obesity by 25% and smoking rates by 36%
- Albert Lea, Minnesota: Healthcare claims dropped by 49%
All of these projects are privately funded and run between 3 to 10 years. There are currently nine sites in the U.S. focused on adopting the Blue Zone traits. Learn more about Blue Zone traits by listening to our Inpsiring Healthy Workplaces podcast interview with Dan Buettner.
Interested? Employers can start a mini Blue Zone challenge right in their offices, beginning with adopting wellness initiatives that align with the Blue Zones.
Create a Blue Zone Office
Providing your employees benefits like health insurance is only part of the equation of healthy living. Most people only use health insurance when they get really sick. Prevention measures and everyday healthy living can extend your employees’ lives — just like what’s documented in Blue Zones around the world.
You can get creative with how you develop your office Blue Zone using the nine secrets.
A few ways to help employees get healthier one day at a time the Blue Zone way:
- Sponsor a bike to work day
- Host daily post lunch walks
- Start the week off with yoga sessions in-office
- Host a life coach for a lunch & learn
- Have employees write a letter to their future self
- Create a bulletin board for employees to write who they want to be
- Host mindful Monday sessions
- Walk everyone through deep breathing before a meeting
- Allow for ½ day Fridays occasionally
- Host a dietitian or nutritionist to discuss eating habits
- Avoid huge buffets for catered work events
- Encourage healthy snacking throughout the day
- Give employees a vegan cookbook
- Host a local chef to demo cooking with local produce
- Make your next catered meal all vegan or vegetarian
Wine at 5
- Host a sommelier to discuss wine benefits
- Treat employees to a weekend getaway at a local winery
- Gift a bottle of red wine to employees
- Encourage collaborative efforts
- Invite a social psychologist to speak at your office
- Set up opportunities for employees to volunteer
Loved Ones First
- Organize family day events throughout the year
- Let employees have flexible schedules to attend family events
- Ask about your employees’ families
- Bring in a faith-based speaker for a lunch & learn session
- Collaborate with a local church for a volunteer project
- Sponsor a multicultural event that offers a faith exploration workshop
Start Your Blue Zones Blueprint Today
If you're already helping employees with their health, the Blue Zones Project example is just another roadmap to help guide the way. The beauty of this campaign is the effectiveness and sustainability factors that have already been proven in other parts of the world.
Start with one element or tackle all nine.
If you’ve already got a wellness committee in place, ask them to consider this as one of their upcoming initiatives to take on. When you start small, you can expand and figure out what works best for your workforce.
Cheers to living to 100!
Want to create a healthier workforce? Reach out and learn more about Beata, our comprehensive wellness program. Schedule a free consultation today!