Discovering the Blue Zones

By Cheryl Proska

Enjoying a Purposeful, Long, & Healthy Life

How does moving to Sardinia sound?

What if the move promises you a purposeful, long, & healthy life? Five communities in the world, Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, have the lowest rates of middle age mortality, dementia, longest- lived women, highest concentration of centenarian men and some residents who live ten more healthy years than the average American.  These areas have been identified as the “Blue Zones”.

The Nine Lessons of Blue Zone People

Dan Buettner, National Geographic fellow and author, has identified nine lessons covering the lifestyle of Blue Zone people:

  1. Moderate, regular physical activity.
  2. Life purpose.
  3. Stress reduction.
  4. Moderate calorie intake.
  5. Plant-based diet.
  6. Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine.
  7. Engagement
    • in social life,
    • in spirituality or religion,
    • and in family life.

What’s Happening in Loma Linda, California

As many as a third of the 22,000 residents of Loma Linda, California, are Seventh-day Adventists. Their religion instructs them to treat their bodies as temples: little or no meat or fish, no smoking or alcohol, plenty of exercise, and a sense of purpose. The top longevity foods of the Adventists are avocados, salmon, nuts, beans, water, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and soy milk.

According to Dan Buettner “The Adventist experience is 20% or 30% healthier than the average American’s.  If you ask Adventists who their friends are, 80 or 90% are other Adventists… “You’re less likely to engage in risky behavior because of your religion and more likely to be cared for when you are older.”
For many of us, totally adapting the lifestyle of the residents of Loma Linda is unrealistic. However, even adapting one of their lifestyle changes can have a meaningful impact.  Long–lived people have developed routines to shed stress. Adventists pray, while Ikarians and Sardinians take a nap. Daily walks, yoga and/or Tai Chi are other positive habits that may be worth exploring.


Are You Living a Purposeful Life?

In all of the Blue Zones, people say they have something to live for beyond work. Research has shown that a sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy. Living a life of meaning has been shown to have such a positive impact on quality of life that Friends Life Care is offering a “Live Your Legacy” Workshop on Wednesday, May 24th. This workshop is designed to help you answer such questions as:

  • What brings me joy?
  • Who am I meant to be now?
  • What do I care about?
  • What difference do I want to make in the world?

This engaging workshop will consist of fun and interactive conversations about how you can share your unique interests and gifts to live a life of even greater joy and purpose. You’ll also gain new skills and strategies to chart your own course, uncover your passions, and choose your next direction.

Barbara Greenspan Shaiman, our workshop leader, is the founder of Champions of Caring and Live Your Legacy, and the author of Live Your Legacy Now! Ten Simple Steps to Find Your Passion and Change the World. She invites people of all ages to explore opportunities and challenges to live a life of personal fulfillment and broader social engagement.

Sign Up for “Live Your Legacy” Workshop

The “Live Your Legacy workshop is being held from 1:30 pm- 3:00 pm on Wednesday, May 24 at Church on the Mall, 500 W. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA. If you would like to join us for this life-affirming workshop please visit us here or call 215-628-8964. The registration fee is only $10 for FLC members, $11 for FitC members and $12 for the public.

Find Our More about Blue Zones

Steve Buettner _ Long, & Healthy Life
For additional information on Blue Zones, check out these books written by Dan Buettner:

Maybe you will get some ideas that you can apply to your life!




Lisa KovenLinda Koven is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 35 years of experience. She earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Adelphi University, Garden City, New York.  She has worked in both inpatient and outpatient hospital settings, and with special needs, mental health, and geriatric clients and their families. Linda specializes in assisting families in crisis. Linda joined Intervention Associates in January 2008.  Previously, she worked for Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Philadelphia.

Linda recently moved from the suburbs to Center City, Philadelphia.  She enjoys partaking in all the cultural activities in Center City. Linda regularly attends classes at Temple University, Osher Center for Life Long Learning.  In addition, Linda enjoys reading, walking, gardening and spending time with her family and friends.



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