The Blue Zones Challenge: How a Healthy Lifestyle is Good for You AND the Planet

A few years ago I learned about the Blue Zones, a study that tracked the habits of the longest-lived, healthiest people on Earth. The project found certain groups of people live considerably longer, healthier, and happier lives. The next step was to study these people - what they do, what they eat, how they live, what they do for fun, etc - to learn why they live so much longer. The lessons from the study have been distilled into "the Power 9", nine lifestyle habits that the longest-lived cultures have in common. What struck me, as I read through the Power 9, is that living a healthier life actually meant living a greener life too! Here's why:

The longest lived people move a lot, they don't go to the gym or jump on the stair-master in the basement. Instead, they walk or bike, work in the garden, use human power instead of machines, and have jobs that keep them moving. Using our bodies to do the work of living is not only good for us, it's good for the planet! So choose to do things the hard way, start a garden, and opt to walk or bike when possible.

The longest lived people follow the 80% rule. It can be hard to say "no" when you are surrounded by the superabundance of (junk) food that surrounds us all the time, but the longest lived people stop eating when they are 80% full. This helps them to regulate their body weight, but also cuts down on food waste and resource misuse.

The longest lived people eat meat sparingly, if at all. In the Blue Zone cultures, a small amount of meat is served for special occasions, roughly four times a month, not three times a day! Eating less meat is healthier for our bodies and it is much better for the planet. To learn more about a vegetarian diet, check out our Top Ten Tips for Going Vegetarian.

The longest lived people belong to groups and have purpose. Being part of a community, meeting regularly with a group of close friends, and having a sense of purpose all contribute to a longer life. Joining community groups that focus on helping others are especially good for you. I strongly suggest joining a group that works to green your community! :)

Interested in living a healthier, longer, happier, and GREENER life? Join me in participating in the Blue Zones Challenge, which helps you incorporate the Power 9 into your life in a manageable way, step-by-step, and week-by-week. I'm just starting, so if you're interested in doing the Challenge with me, let me know now!

- Hannah

PS Want to take it to the next level? Blue Zones has a program to help you turn your town or city into a healthier, longer-lived community. Better for your neighbors and better for the planet!