Discovering the Blue Zones
The term “blue zones” was first coined by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Explorer and Fellow and journalist, during an exploratory project he led in 2004. After an expedition to Okinawa, Japan in 2000 to investigate the longevity there, he set out to explore other regions of the world with reportedly high longevity. With the support of
National Geographic, Buettner, and his team of scientists and demographers traveled the world in search of communities where people not only lived longer but also enjoyed a high quality of life in their old age. After analyzing demographic data and interviewing numerous centenarians, they identified five regions that stood out for their extraordinary longevity and vitality.
Identifying the Blue Zones
The concept of blue zones grew from the demographic work Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain outlined in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology, identifying Sardinia, Italy as the region with the highest concentration of male centenarians.
Pes and Poulain drew concentric blue circles on the map highlighting these villages of extreme longevity and began to refer to this area inside the circle as the blue zone. Building on that demographic work, Dan and a team of scientists often including Pes and Poulain, pinpointed other longevity hotspots worldwide and dubbed them blue zones.
Ultimately, Dan and the team of demographers and researchers found that all blue zones areas share nine specific lifestyle habits that we call the Power 9®.
Dan’s adventures – and all that he learned – is chronicled in his book The Blue Zones, as well as The Blue Zones Solution, The Blue Zones Challenge, The Blue Zones American Kitchen, and Blue Zones Secrets. The books became New York Times bestsellers and drew worldwide media attention. The subsequent bestsellers Thrive and Blue Zones of Happiness takes a Blue Zones approach to solve another mystery: Why are the world’s happiest places the happiest?
Blue Zones is now dedicated to creating healthy communities across the United States. The first effort, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, was a “stunning” success, and formed the blueprint for our Blue Zones Projects.
Blue Zones® is now a trademark of Blue Zones, LLC, and reflects the lifestyle and the environment of the world’s longest-lived people.