Blue Zones and Longevity
In 2004, Dan Buettner and National Geographic set out to identify areas around the world where people were living much longer and healthier lives. They found five areas and circled them in blue marker on their world map – thus the name “Blue Zones.” Buettner discovered that these zones all had nine habits in common that were helping people live much longer with much less disease than we experience in the United States. Based on his book, The Blue Zones, these habits are known as the Power 9® (see below for more details). Buettner took these nine common habits and formed a global community movement called Blue Zones Project, which uses Blue Zones principles to help nudge people toward better longevity by transforming environments and policies designed to make healthy choices easier.
Blue Zones Project in North Texas
In 2015, Blue Zones Project was launched in Fort Worth. With strong support from Texas Health Resources and other community organizations, in late 2018 Fort Worth became a certified Blue Zones Community, the largest in the country. As a result of the initiative, Fort Worth has shown improvement in purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being — all five of the core elements of well-being measured by the Gallup-Sharecare survey. What’s more, Fort Worth’s equivalent rank for overall well-being (compared to the 190 largest metro areas reported nationally) rose from 185th in 2014 to 58th in 2017 and then jumped up again in 2018 to 31st place. The city’s well-being rankings have remained consistent in the years since. Check out CNN’s story about Blues Zones Fort Worth Project and Texas Health here.
In early 2019, Blue Zones Project Fort Worth moved under the umbrella of North Texas Healthy Communities, a non-profit community outreach arm of Texas Health Resources that focuses on community health and well-being.
Largest Blue Zones Approved Worksite in the World!
What is good for the community is also good for us! In 2016, Texas Health Resources launched its own Blue Zones Approved Worksite initiative and quickly became the largest Blue Zones Approved worksite in the world. Close to 10,000 employees have now pledged to adopt Power 9 habits. At the same time, Texas Health has worked with the Be Healthy Wellness Program to make healthy choices easier at work:
- Blue Zones-marked parking spaces at wholly-owned Texas Health locations: Look for parking spaces far away from the entrance and get in more steps.
- Blue Zones micro-breaks during the workday: Relieve stress by taking brief mind and body breaks during the day; click here to download a micro-break flyer.
- Blue Zones plant-forward food options in many of our cafes: Look for plant-based options, specials and healthier snack items at Texas Health cafes.
One of the best ways to live longer and better is by incorporating the traits of those who have lived the longest into your own life. Consider adopting these Power 9 principles and improve your well-being and longevity:
- Move Naturally – Find ways to move more. You’ll burn calories without thinking about it
- Down Shift – Reverse disease by finding a stress relieving strategy that works for you
- Purpose – Wake up with purpose each day and add up to seven years to your life
- 80% Rule – Eat mindfully and stop eating when you’re 80% full
- Plant Slant – Put more fruits and vegetables on your plate
- Family First – Invest time with your family
- Belong – Belong to a faith-based community and attend services regularly
- Positive Pack – Surround yourself with people who support your positive behaviors and who support you
- Social Hour/Wine@Five – Schedule social time with friends over a glass of red wine, coffee, or healthy smoothie
Learn more about Blue Zones Project here:
- Dan Buettner at TEDMED (16 minutes)
- Blue Zones Project Resources