Review: “The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner

blue-zones-book-2-200x303The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest by Dan Buettner. National Geographic. 336 pages.

I can’t remember exactly where I heard about this book, but somewhere in my travels they mentioned that there was a book out there that isolated pockets of population around the world that had exceptionally large numbers of centegenarians (people 100 years old or older), and did a scientific analysis as to why they lived as old as they did. That fascinated me. In addition, I heard that Seventh-day Adventists were mentioned in the book, and because we are known for our healthy lifestyle, I thought I should pick it up.

And the book ended up having some of the predictable things in it. You need to exercise more. Vegetarianism is healthier. Stuff like that. The journalist who wrote the book and the scientists who traveled with him visited Costa Rica, Sardinia, Greece, Okinawa, and yes, Loma Linda, California, in search of some silver bullet, some drug, medication, herb or extract that they could tell the world, hey, take this and you will live longer. But what they found wasn’t something you could put in a bottle. It wasn’t even a list of lifestyle habits. It was more a life philosophy.

As my wife and I look forward to our retirement years, we are taking a hard look at how we want to spend those years, and this book makes some good recommendations. Some of the things these people have in common were: they all walked lots and lots, they had gardens where they grew their own food, they exercised regularly, and got good rest. Those are all pretty expected. What I didn’t expect were recommendations like: you need to have good social contacts, whether family or friends, and you have to have a sense of purpose. One statistic shows that many more people die the first year of retirement than do the last year of work. The reason? Work gave them something to live for.

I enjoyed the story of the 112-year-old Adventist woman living in Arizona with her 91-year-old daughter who were best friends and whose advice was to slow down and enjoy life because it goes by fast. And then there’s the story of the 80-year-old Costa Rican man who daily bicycles to his 104-year-old mother’s house so she can fix him breakfast.

This was an easy-to-read, entertaining, informative book that I am eager to apply to my own life. In fact, I am insisting that my wife read it, and that we then sit down and discuss how we will incorporate those changes into our lives as soon as possible.

Five stars out of five.