Surprising Habits from the Worlds’ ‘Blue Zones’: The Regions Where People Live the Longest

Here are some 'blue zone' health habits you wouldn't expect


Heather Grant

3 years ago | 3 min read

Want to be happy and healthy and live right up to 100? Then you might want to look into the worlds so-called ‘Blue Zones’.

These are the regions where, according to Dan Buettner, people live the longest and healthiest lives. These places have the highest concentration of Centerians, and commonalities across their lifestyles suggest there are some habits we should be picking up.

After learning about the Blue Zone lifestyle on Zac Efron’s Netflix series ‘Down to Earth’ I decided to research their secret. Whilst physical activity, moderation, and eating your greens are key factors, there are also some blue-zone habits you wouldn’t expect…

1. They Don’t Shy Away from Happy Hour

In the original four Blue Zones, the Centenarians drank regularly and moderately. And there are two key factors in this: what you drink and who you drink it with.

The Blue Zones don’t keep to a strict meal plan of plain vegetables and water, but allow themselves to relax with friends, and enjoy a glass of red wine and a delicious meal.

For example, in Sardinia (one of the original blue zones) the locals enjoy a regional red wine called Cannonau. This beverage is higher in antioxidants than other wines, and could explain the fewer heart attacks and lower levels of stress in that region. They drink it surrounded by good friends and delicious home-cooked food.

Moderation is key; binge drinking and going out every night isn’t suddenly the key to being healthy, but there’s power in good wine and good friends. This is beautifully summed up in one of Buettner’s books, ‘Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way’:

Drink without getting drunk
Love without suffering jealousy
Eat without overindulging
Never argue
And once in a while, with great discretion, misbehave”
Dan Buettner, Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

2. They Don’t Work-Out

This gym-bound image of health doesn’t exist in the blue-zones. You won’t find them doing a HIIT session or spin class. When they walk, run, or cycle it’s with a purpose, to go somewhere, and not on a stationary machine.

Their physical activity isn’t scheduled in, but ingrained in other activities they do. They grow their own plants and cook food from scratch. They walk to work, move all day, and walk back. When they go out to socialize, they walk there too.

That being said, working in an office doesn’t offer as much movement as being a Sardinian Shepard or Okinawan gardener, so don’t completely disregard your workouts, but integrating more natural movement into your life can be hugely beneficial. As Buettener says: “Walking is one of the best forms of exercise and you can do it without thinking about it”.

3. They’re Big on Carbs

Diet-culture has spread the myth that carbs are always bad and protein is always good. The Blue Zone diet challenges this.

In all of the zones, their diets are predominantly plant-based and carb-heavy. And the four of the five zones that eat meat restrict it to celebratory occasions or as a small side. Their diets are made up of fresh sourdough bread, grains, beans, and locally grown vegetables.

They don’t overthink their food and restrict themselves, instead, they enjoy fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch and, most importantly, taking their time to enjoy meals with other people. Essentially, the opposite of a post-gym protein shakes on the go.

The reason these factors challenge our ideas of ‘heath’ is largely because the Blue Zone centenarians aren’t trying to be healthy. They didn’t go on diet and aim to live a long life. They don’t count calories, weigh protein grams, and put pressure on themselves to live a certain way. They simply prioritize feeling good: they spend time with their friends, they move their bodies, and they celebrate every meal.

Originally published in In Fitness and In Health
You can check out more of my writing on my website, Facebook @writtenbyheather, and Instagram @writtenbyheatherr


Created by

Heather Grant

English Literature MA Student. An honest approach to wellbeing, lifestyle, and sustainability. Read more >







Related Articles