News & Insights 19 December 2022

‘The Blue Zones’: how we can live longer and healthier lives!

It is well known that physical activity can improve our health, but can we lengthen our lives through doing a specific type of activity?

Findings from the ‘Danish Twin Study’ suggest that only 20% of our lifespans are determined by our genetics, whereas 80% is influenced by our lifestyles. In 2004, Dan Buettner – fixated on finding these lifestyle factors contributing to longevity, came across ‘The 5 Blue Zones’.

A Blue Zone is a term given to a geographical place where people live the longest and happiest lives, with the lowest rates of chronic disease. Their healthy lifestyles are thought to be the reason for this. The five blue zones are:

  • Icaria, Greence
  • Loma Linda, USA
  • Nicoya Pennisula, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy

It was established that people living in these blue zones share nine lifestyle habits, with one being their approach to physical activity. The health benefits of physical activity are well-established. However, people living in these blue zones view physical activity differently to most people. Instead of going to the gym or doing an intense workout, they implement natural movement throughout their day.

Dan Buettner, CEO of Blue Zones LLC: “The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work. And they walk every single day. Almost everywhere.”

Therefore, using our opportunities for everyday movement can make us live longer. By walking to the shops, taking the stairs or just reminding ourselves to take regular breaks when sitting, can contribute to an increased Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).

NEAT refers to physical activity that isn’t exercise or a structured workout. People within the blue zones achieve a high NEAT through their emphasis on natural movements.

For example, the Ikarians in Greece keep physically active through gardening and in Okinawa, Tai-Chi is commonly practiced. Whereas Sardinian shepherds walk over 5 miles on mountainous terrain. Being aware of the different types of physical activity and opportunities for movement throughout the day is key. There are countless ways to benefit your health through physical activity!

Physical activity is more than ‘exercise’ or ‘sport’, it should be enjoyable for everyone. If exercise feels like a chore, then spreading your movement out across the ~112 waking hours of the week can be a great alternative! This doesn’t mean that we need to eliminate exercise, but it is important to understand the role of moving naturally too. At KiActiv®, we understand that all movement counts and is beneficial for your health!

The KiActiv® Team