Enter the Naples Blue Zone...
Transforming Well Being in Southwest Florida
Those of us who have chosen to live in Naples and throughout Southwest Florida recognize how fortunate we are to live in a place with warm, sunny weather close to the beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. While living in a place like this is a good step in the right direction to living a happy, healthy, vibrant life, it is certainly not the only important factor.
What is the Blue Zone Project?
According to its website, the Blue Zones Project is "a community-wide well-being improvement initiative to help make healthy choices easier for everyone in Southwest Florida. A vital part of Southwest Florida's well-being improvement initiative, Blue Zones Project encourages changes to our community that lead to healthier options. When our entire community participates - from our worksites and schools to our restaurants and grocery stores - the small changes contribute to huge benefits for all of us: lowered healthcare costs, improved productivity, and ultimately, a higher quality of life."
What is the history of Blue Zones?
Dan Buettner, a New York Times bestselling author and National Geographic Fellow, travelled the world studying the habits and lifestyles of people in communities who live active, healthy and meaningful lives well into their 100s. He used his research, along with a global longevity study to write his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest. His book evolved into a global movement that's inspiring people to live longer, healthier and happier lives.
Dr. Allen Weiss, the president and chief executive officer of NCH Healthcare System, introduced the Blue Zones Project to the Naples area in 2015 to promote better health and longevity. There are currently more than 100 organizations in the area participating, including companies, churches, and schools.
Nine Principles of a Blue Zone
People who live in a Blue Zone have nine characteristics in common, according to researchers. For the Blue Zones Project, these are called "Power 9 Principles."
Move naturally - Get more physically active by walking in the community, do manual labor around the house and yard, and grow gardens.
Know your purpose - People who know why they get up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don't.
Down shift - To reverse inflammation related to every major age-related disease, find time each day to meditate, nap, pray or enjoy a happy hour.
80 percent rule - It takes the stomach 20 minutes to tell the brain it is full, causing most people to accidentally overeat. Stop eating when you're 80 percent full.
Plant slant - Eat a mostly plant-based diet heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. This is consistent with U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations.
Wine at 5 - For those who have a healthy relationship with alcohol, 1-2 glasses of wine daily can add years to a life, especially when combined with a healthy diet.
Family first - Living in a thriving family is worth six extra years of life expectancy.
Belong - Recommit, reconnect or explore a faith-based community. No matter which faith, studies show that people who show up to their faith community four times a month live an extra four to 14 years.
Right tribe - Friends have a long-term impact on well-being. Expand a social circle to include healthy-minded, supportive people. This could be the most powerful way to add years to a life.
In researching his latest book, The Blue Zones of Happiness, Buettner and his team developed a top 10 list of personal recommendations for individuals seeking to live happier lives:
- Prioritize friends and family.
- Get involved in a club, team, or a civic or religious organization.
- Learn the art of likability.
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical exercise daily.
- Focus on the happiness of others.
- Make a best friend at work.
- Monitor your health.
- Live together, but choose the right spouse.
- Savor life in the moment - in the moment or in anticipation of positive future events.
- Set meaningful goals and monitor progress.
It is never too soon...or too late to start living a better life!