Blue Zones® Checklists

Our checklists help you optimize your life for maximum health and happiness.

Background

Did you know that watering houseplants burns the same number of calories as stretching and walking? Scientists at the Mayo Clinic found that increasing simple movements – standing, walking, and talking – can help you burn an additional 350 calories each day. By deconveniencing your home, or changing the environment to make active living easier, you will burn these extra calories without even thinking about it. The absence of items of convenience, like a TV remote or a riding lawn mower, seamlessly adds physical activity into your daily routines.

Objective

The questionnaire below will help you score the impact of your current home and yard on your level of physical activity. The answers will show you where you can make small, simple changes to facilitate a naturally active lifestyle.

Directions

  1. Choose the answer that matches your current behavior to see how supportive your home is for physical activity.
  2. The checklist will automatically add up your points so you can see your score at the bottom of the page.
  3. Enter your email address to receive a copy of your Blue Zones® Home Checklist results or print a copy directly from the page..
  4. Start making changes to your home and yard based on your answers and the recommendations given. These changes don’t have to be made all at once. Pick the easier ones to start with and continue completing at least one item each week.
  5. Complete this tool again in two months to see how many points you’ve gained and how your rankings have improved!
  • Enter in your email address to receive a copy of your Blue Zones® Home Checklist results.
    How to do it: Place you scale on the floor in front of your bathroom mirror or in a place in your home where you can't avoid it.

    Why do it: People who weigh themselves every day for two years weigh as much as 17 pounds less after two years than people who never weighed themselves. Daily weight checks take only seconds, and the results can provide powerful reinforcement.
    How to do it: Have only one TV. Put it in a common room, preferably in a cabinet behind doors. The goal here is to nudge you away from screen time that detracts from physical activity and encourages overeating.

    Why do it: People who watch too much TV are more likely to be overweight. TV-watching actually lowers metabolism, makes us less active, and encourages us to eat junk food via commercials. Kids with a TV in their bedroom are 18 percent more likely to be (or become) obese and have lower grades. The happiest people watch only 30-60 minutes of TV per day.
    How to do it: Mow your lawn with a push lawn mower, shovel the snow with a hand shovel, and gather the leaves from your lawn with an old-fashioned rake instead of a leaf blower.

    Why do it: Shoveling, raking, and push-mowing are healthy and productive outdoor workouts. Some burn almost 400 calories an hour. In fact, mowing the lawn or raking leaves burns about the same amount of calories as lifting weights.
    How to do it: Plant a garden in your yard or take a look through the "how-to projects" from the National Gardening Association website (www.garden.org) and choose a project that's right for you and your space. Start planting and enjoying your delicious produce!

    Why do it: Gardening is common in all Blue Zones. This activity provides low-intensity range-of-motion exercise, stress reduction, and fresh vegetables. In fact, the CDC points out that you can burn 150 calories by gardening (standing) for approximately 30-45 minutes.
    How to do it: Take a dog home from your local animal shelter or pet store. However, before you do so, visit the American Kennel Club website to determine if you are ready to commit to a dog and learn how to be a responsible dog owner: http://www.akc.org/public_education/responsible_dog_owner.cfm

    Why do it: Pets make for great companions and encourage you to walk or run. Researchers found that if you own a pet, you get over five hours of exercise a week without a lot of added effort. In fact, studies have shown that dog owners have lower rates of health problems compared to those who don’t own a dog.
    How to do it: Buy a bike or fix your current bike; then do the same for other family members. Use good quality helmets to prevent injury.

    Why do it: People who live in Blue Zones areas use active transportation. Not only can you easily incorporate physical activity into your daily life if you own and use a bike, riding at a moderate speed burns approximately 235 calories per half hour. Additionally, wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of serious head injury in crashes by as much as 85% and the risk for brain injury by as much as 88%.
    How to do it: Keep sporting equipment nearby to encourage physical activity.

    Why do it: Owning this equipment makes it easier to practice sports at home. Did you know that inline skating burns more calories than running track and field hurdles and that playing catch for only 30 minutes burns over 100 calories?
    How to do it: Pick up some pots, potting soil and some of your favorite greenery to place throughout your home. Golden Pothos Vines and Spider Plants are great starter plants and easy to maintain.

    Why do it: Did you know that watering plants burns the same amount of calories as stretching or walking? Besides their ability to clean the air, indoor plants have been proven to provide health benefits to people who interact with them. If you keep houseplants, then you'll be nudged to nurture them daily.
    How do I do it: Create a room on the top of your home in which you are fully immersed in what you're doing - where it's easy to engage in a hobby, read a book, or do a family activity. Include a large table for family projects, shelves filled with books, and plenty of light. Leave out the clock, TV, computer, or other distracting gadgets.

    Why do it: A popular room on another level of your home increases stair climbing. Did you know that you burn 10 calories per minute climbing up stairs and four calories per minute climbing down them?
    How to do it: Stop using your electric garage door opener. Instead, open the door manually.

    Why do it: Getting out of the car, raising the door, and returning to the car rather than using a remote control will burn seven calories per minute. Doing this twice a day doesn't take much time, but will burn extra calories!
    How to do it: Designate a portion of a room in your home for your exercise equipment, stability ball, yoga mat, and/or weight set.

    Why do it: Exercising is made more convenient when you have a space in your home designated for that specific activity. You are more likely to use the equipment it if is easily accessible and visible. A study at the University of Florida found that women who exercised at home lost 25 pounds in 15 months and maintained that loss.
    How to do it: Instead of using your TV remote to change the channel, walk over to your TV and manually switch stations.

    Why do it: Getting up and changing the channel manually 10 times per day will burn 100 calories.
    How to do it: Instead if sitting on chairs and furniture all the time, sit on cushions on the floor.

    Why do it: Sitting on the floor works your thighs, glutes, and lower back each time you sit down and stand back up. Supporting yourself without a chair back improves posture and may help you burn up to an additional 130 calories each hour!
  • 0
    out of 55 points
  • 55+ points:

    Blue Zones Home. You have deconvenienced your living environment in a way that allows you to mindlessly move your way to better health.

    30 to 39:

    Almost There. You are well on your way to creating an ideal home environment.

    15 to 29:

    On Your Way. When you begin to pair many of these behaviors together, you'll start engaging in physical activity more often. Which item is first on your list of changes? Get started on that right now.

    Below 15:

    Just Getting Started. Everyone has to start somewhere. Begin the process by prioritizing the changes you want to make and start on them tomorrow.

  • Submit your Blue Zones Home Checklist results to have them emailed to you or print a copy directly from the page. Start making changes to your home and yard based on your answers and the recommendations given. These changes don’t have to be made all at once. Pick the easier ones to start with and continue completing at least one item each week.

References

1. Levine, James A, Mark W Vander Weg Robert C Klesges (2006), Increasing Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: A NEAT Way to Increase Energy Expenditure in your Patients,” Obesity Management, 2:4 (August), 146-151.

2. Klem ML, Wing RR, McGuire MT, Seagle HM, Hill JO. “A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss.” Am J Clin Nutr 1997, 66:239-246.

3. Roberts DF, Foehr UG, Rideout V. (2005) “Generation M: media in the lives of 8-18 year-olds”. Kaiser Family Foundation, 32, 1140-115.

4. http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-burned-mowing-lawn-a159

All helmets manufactured or imported for use after March 1999 must comply with a mandatory safety standard issued by the CPSC. <a href=”http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/regsumbicyclehelmets.pdf”>http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/regsumbicyclehelmets.pdf</a> (Accessed 7/25/11)

http://bicycling.about.com/od/cyclingforabetterbody/a/weightloss.htm

Thompson RS, Rivara FP, Thompson DC. A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. N Engl J Med<em>.</em> 1989; 320:1361-7.

The Telegraph (November, 27, 2009). “Average dog owner ‘gets more exercise than gym-goers’.” <a href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/6666409/Average-dog-owner-gets-more-exercise-than-gym-goers.html”>http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/6666409/Average-dog-owner-gets-more-exercise-than-gym-goers.html</a> (Accessed 7/28/11)

Serpell, J (1991), “Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health and behaviour,” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Vol. 84, 717-720.

5. Ainsworth BE, et al. (2000). Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 32(9 Suppl):S498-504].

6. http://www.cdc.gov/family/gardening/ (Accessed 7/15/11)

7. http://www.caloriesperhour.com/index_burn.php (Accessed 7/15/11)

8. Ainsworth, B. E., et al. “Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 32.9 Suppl (2000):S498-S504.

9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/befit/story/0,,1387859,00.html (Accessed 7/15/11)