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Residents of Blue Zones live to 100 nearly 10 times more often than most Americans.

Medically reviewed in January 2022

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While it's still rare to become a centenarian in most places, several groups of people around the globe have discovered how to reach the ripe old age of 100—or more. They live in Blue Zones, communities that share core characteristics such as eating a healthy, plant-based diet, moving naturally and even partaking in happy hours.

Read on to visit each of the original Blue Zones and learn how to live a longer, happier life from the world’s centenarians.

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Ikaria, Greece

Ikarians don’t just enjoy warm weather, mountainous terrain and spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. They also live relaxed lifestyles, rich in tradition, family and community, which promote their overall well-being.

What you can do to live like an Ikarian:

  • Eat a Mediterranean-style diet loaded with whole grains, beans, fruits, veggies and heart-healthy olive oil.
  • Drink red wine moderately. That means one glass per day for women and two for men.
  • Take a mid-afternoon nap to reduce stress and heart disease risk.
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Loma Linda, California

Just east of Los Angeles, this community of Seventh Day Adventists has learned that faith, moderate exercise and a plant-based diet may add nearly a decade to their lives, compared to the rest of the US.

What you can do to live like a Loma Lindan:

  • Find your faith to reduce stress and develop a better sense of community.
  • Take a leisurely walk. It’s a low-intensity workout that has major benefits, like improved heart health and lowered stress.
  • Eat a diet with fewer meats, but rich in plant-based foods. If you can’t give up meat completely, try eating it as a side dish rather than the main course. 
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Sardinia, Italy

The first Blue Zone identified by Dan Buettner, Sardinia is home to almost 10 times more centenarians per capita than the US. Because residents are culturally isolated, they’ve maintained their healthy, active lifestyles for centuries.

What you can do to live like a Sardinian:

  • Swap cow’s milk for goat’s milk. Some research suggests that goat’s milk can have an anti-inflammatory affect on the body and promote good gut health.
  • Celebrate your community’s elders; they not only impart wisdom on younger generations, but ensure the continuation of traditions, too.
  • Share a few laughs with your friends to relax and reduce stress.
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Okinawa, Japan

Known as “the land of the immortals,” Okinawa, Japan, has lower rates of cancer, dementia and other diseases than the US. Okinawans also have a serious sense of community, and maintain strong social networks called moais.

What you can do to live like an Okinawan:

  • Move naturally, rather than exercise intensely. Activities like gardening and walking burn calories and can reduce stress.
  • Develop your moai, or a group of friends and family that can pitch in during times of hardship.
  • Get enough vitamin D to promote bone health and beat the wintertime doldrums.
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Nicoya, Costa Rica

This Caribbean peninsula’s residents are twice as likely as Americans to live to age 90, while maintaining good overall health. What’s the key to Nicoyans’ longevity? Having a “plan de vida,” or a sense of purpose in life.

What you can do to live like a Nicoyan:

  • Discover your sense of purpose. You can feel like a contributor to your community and the greater good.
  • Eat a light dinner earlier in the evening to limit caloric intake.
  • Try to enjoy doing your chores! Nicoyans find happiness in completing everyday, physical work.

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