2018 Longevity Project: Blue Zones

How to live a longer, happier, healthier life

Join Casey’s Pond and the Steamboat Pilot & Today to debunk common myths and learn a science-backed blueprint to live longer.

Intro to Blue Zones

The majority of research suggests genetics determines 20 to 30 percent of potential lifespan, leaving 70 to 80 percent to lifestyle.

Through a revolutionary project, explorer, journalist and best-selling author Dan Buettner worked with National Geographic to identify five communities across the globe where people are living the longest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California. These areas were labeled as “Blue Zones.”

Joined by a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers and epidemiologists, Buettner’s findings resulted in nine evidence-based lifestyle habits shared by the five Blue Zones.

Now they are working to spread those longevity discoveries in the United States.

9 Healthy Habits

• Move naturally: The world’s longest-living people don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.

• Purpose: Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.

• Down shift: Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease.

• 80 percent rule: Stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full. Eat your smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and then don’t eat for the rest of the day.

• Plant slant: Beans are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.

• Wine at 5: Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. Drink 1 to 2 glasses per day with friends and/or with food.

• Belong: Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.

• Loved ones first: Successful centenarians put their families first.

• Right tribe: The social networks of long-living people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.

The Longevity Project

Part 1: Does living in the Yampa Valley lead to a longer life?

John F. Russell

From retirees skiing to ranchers wrangling well into their golden years, the Yampa Valley is home to a significant percentage of actively aging people.

Routt County, and Colorado as a whole, fare significantly better than the nation, which is seeing life expectancy decline.

So with our population graying at such a fast rate, what is the secret to living a long and healthy life?

Read more.

Part 2: Move often and eat more plants

John F. Russell

It’s not unusual to see Yampa Valley residents in their 80s swimming, skiing, playing tennis and pickleball and cycling.

Routt County ranks third in the state for health factors, according to a 2018 County Health Rankings Report.

And though Steamboat may be home to an inspiring abundance of over-75 athletes, research shows any kind of regular physical movement is highly beneficial.

Read more.

Part 3: Finding a sense of purpose and passion in daily life

John F. Russell

In Okinawa, Japan, it’s called “ikigai.” On the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, it’s called “plan de vida.”

Best described as “a sense of purpose,” having one can add seven years to your life.

It doesn’t matter what that sense of purpose is, but research shows having that meaning, that reason to get out of bed each day, can have an instrumental impact on mental and physical health.

Read more.

Part 4: Loneliness a major health risk for aging population

John F. Russell

Two of the Blue Zone’s nine keys to longevity — which were discovered among the communities of the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives — relate to social connectivity.

A recent study found nearly half of all Americans feel lonely. Another study found loneliness can increase the risk of death by 26 to 45 percent — the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Read more.

Video from the event

Tony Buettner with Blue Zones debunks the most common myths and offers a science-backed approach for the average American to live another 12 quality years.

A panel of Routt County health experts also share their views.

Yampa Valley Super Seniors

If you hang out in Steamboat Springs for very long, you’ll notice the town is full of active senior citizens.

Dozens of people 75 and older still ski, mountain bike, lift weights and work out more vigorously than people decades younger than them. They are involved in local service clubs, they volunteer to assist with community events, they serve on boards, and they take time to enjoy all the incredible events our town has to offer, from live music to opera to symphony to theater.

In honor of our booming senior population, the Steamboat Pilot & Today asked readers to tell us about their favorite seniors over the age of 75, and then we asked these Super Seniors to share their secrets to living a long and healthy life.

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