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So it turns out that Ponce De Leon went looking for the fountain of youth in the wrong place. It’s actually in Ikaria, Greece. Then there is Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; the Sardinian mountains of Italy. These communities, or “Blue Zones” as they’re called, are pockets of society where people live well into their 100s and are healthy all the while.
Back in 2005, explorer Dan Buettner wrote the article “Secrets of Longevity” for National Geographic Magazine. While looking at these five Blue Zones, people realized what these communities had in common. Aside from not smoking cigarettes and keeping sugar intake and chronic stress low, these people consumed plant-rich diets and practiced moderate physical activity daily. They felt a purpose in life and a spiritual connection. Also interesting to note, family and neighborly ties were important.
The impact of this discovery has had a ripple effect around the world. To increase physical activity on a daily basis and foster ties between residents, walkable communities are on the rise. By leading walking audits in cities around the United States, Walkable Organization is helping neighborhoods make changes to increase better pedestrian routes and reduce car traffic.
In Blue Zones, illnesses like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity are remarkably lower. These communities eat a mix of carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein from vegetables, legumes and meat. What are missing from their diets are packaged and engineered foods. A 2012 survey by the US Department of Agriculture reports that there was a .5 percent increase in CSA since 2007, a sign that more people are going straight to the source for their food.
While many communities in America still have a ways to go before experiencing the quality of life of Blue Zones, the strides made are evident. Daily headlines show that cities are finding new ways to put family first, increase exercise and emphasize neighborly living.
How does your community get moving? Share your favorite health movement with us in the comment section below!