MEN'S HEALTH ∙ 2 minute read

Why do people in 'Blue Zones' live longer than the rest of us?

By Joe Young | Medically reviewed by Dr Luke Pratsides

Where you live matters. Not just for your broadband connection, but it also has a big effect on your habits which lead to better health. 

You might have heard of ‘Blue Zones’ before. They’re five regions of the world where people live longer and healthier lives than anywhere else on Earth.


  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California

What are they doing right?

All these regions boast a high concentration of centenarians. 

Their diet is key throughout. Sardinia follows a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which is proven to help people age better, live longer, and have fewer cardiovascular diseases. 

The other regions tend to follow a similar plant-based diet and engage in a variety of activities to stay active, like walking, swimming, and gardening. Another common aspect is social connections as they all have close-knit communities.

You might be surprised to see Loma Linda, California, USA in this list, but less surprised that it centres around a religious cult. But the Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda follows similar principles with a plant-based diet rich in fruits, which they call the Garden of Eden diet. They also maintain a strong sense of community and engage in regular physical activity. 

What can we take from this?

  • A plant-based diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential nutrients and antioxidants while being low in saturated fats and cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Regular physical activity: Engaging in physical activities like walking, swimming, and gardening helps maintain healthy muscles, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

  • Strong social connections: Living in close-knit communities and having strong bonds with family and friends reduces stress, improves mood, boosts the immune system, and contributes to a longer life. Research suggests that people with stronger social connections have a 50% increased likelihood of survival compared to those with weaker or fewer social connections. 

  • Positive outlook: A positive outlook helps individuals cope with stress, make better decisions, and lead to a longer and healthier life. In fact, a study showed that the most optimistic people had a 16% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to the least optimistic. 

The numan take

You don’t need to board a boat to a tropical island for a more fulfilling life. Instead, take matters into your own hands by adopting some of their behaviours. It’s an easy way to enjoy life for longer - regardless of where you live.