Now we have another reason to love living in Naples. Southwest Florida is one of nine places in the world signed on to the Blue Zones Project. The initiative grew out of a National Geographic-funded project in which researchers sought to identify the longest-living communities in the world. They determined 5 places in the world - in Italy, Japan, Costa Rica, Greece and the United States - where people live longer lives with fewer chronic diseases and identified nine common lifestyle principles ranging from eating habits to social connectedness to faith, that lead to longevity.
Locally, community leaders, business owners, health officials and residents in Collier County have embarked on an effort to make this area a Blue Zone. The program requires participation from local governments, school systems, grocery stores, churches, employers and volunteers. People live longer and in better health in the right surroundings, with supporting social networks, where unhealthy temptations are lessened and healthier choices are easier. Making these changes can lower obesity rates and chronic disease, improve productivity, and ultimately lead to a healthier, happier place to live, work and play. The eight-year project, which is designed to be a public-private partnership, is being underwritten by the NCH Healthcare System.
An important part of the Blue Zones project is a community effort to educate people on the “Power 9,” the nine identified principles that lead to longevity. Included in the principles are moving naturally by living in walkable communities; knowing your purpose; downshifting each day with a stress-relieving strategy; and eating a plant-based diet. Other principles include the “80-percent rule” to stop eating when you feel 80-percent full; enjoy a glass of wine each day; putting family first; belonging to a faith-based community; and having a group of healthy-minded and supportive friends.