How Blue Zones Compare With Lessons From Other Centenarians

Man & woman sitting on blue couch smiling

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



The world’s oldest living person, Kane Tanaka, recently celebrated her 117th birthday. What’s even more amazing is that by 2050, there could be over 3.7 million people who are 100 or more years old. What’s their secret? Let’s find out.

Takeaways From Kane Tanaka

Tanaka was born in Japan on January 2, 1903. She was actually born prematurely and considered lucky to survive her first birthday. She married at the age of 19, and during World War II Tanaka took a greater role in her husband’s family store while he served. Both her husband and eldest son died during the war and Tanaka continued on at the store until she retired at the age of 63. At age 103, she was diagnosed with colon cancer but survived.

Today, Tanaka still lives in Japan and remains in good health. She wakes up at 6 a.m., spends her afternoon studying mathematics and also loves the board game Othello; regularly besting the staff at her nursing home. She says the secrets to her longevity are family, sleep and hope. Speaking of, Tanaka hopes to live to at least the age of 120.

Lessons from Other Centenarians

A United Healthcare survey of 100 centenarians found these lifestyle traits:

Family First – 97 percent said family is important and almost half said they would rather spend time with family than anyone else.

A Positive Attitude – 61 percent of these centenarians view themselves as being very positive and consider it a key to staying healthy.

Regular Exercise – Nearly half walk or hike. About a third exercise to strengthen muscles or for stress relief, while 24 percent participate in cardiovascular exercise indoors, and 23 percent garden to stay active.

For more information on incorporating the Blue Zones approach in senior living, check out our Successful Secrets to Aging Guide!

senior living guide to aging well

Blue Zones® Research Agrees

Blue Zones® are places around the world where people live longer, specifically into their 100s. Locations include:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okanawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California, United States
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Nicoya, Coast Rica

Research in these places has found lifestyle traits similar to the ones listed above from both Tanaka and the United Healthcare survey. Known as the Power 9®, Blue Zones traits include:

  • Move Naturally – Staying physically fit by incorporating natural movement into daily life such as gardening, biking, walking, hiking and swimming. 
  • Purpose – Blue Zones researchers say having purpose can add up to seven years to your life expectancy.
  • Down Shift – Creating a daily routine to help destress. Okinawans take time each day to remember ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians nap and Sardinians have happy hour.
  • Hara Hachi Bu – Known as the 80% rule, stop eating before you feel full. This gap between when you are no longer hungry to when you feel full helps you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Plant Slant – Eating a primarily plant-based diet with beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains as the core.
  • Wine @ 5 – Drinking alcohol in moderation regularly. Blue Zones research shows those who do outlive peers who don’t drink at all.
  • Belong – Participating in a faith-based community of some kind. Research shows attending faith-based services four times per month can add four to 14 years of life expectancy.
  • Loved Ones First – Prioritizing family in all decision making. In Blue Zones, aging parents and grandparents are nearby and parents invest in their children with time and love.
  • Right Tribe – Making sure you have a social circle that includes healthy-minded and supportive people to increase longevity.

Incorporating the Lessons Into Your Life

These lessons may sound like great ideas, but, realistically, how can you do them all? You’re in luck, because senior living communities are designed with many of these traits in mind. For example, our Vibrant Living Program makes it easy to stay active, independent and socially connected with monthly calendars filled with clubs, classes, events and outings, along with amenities such as pools, fitness centers, restaurant-style dining and housekeeping and laundry services. It’s the convenient and carefree lifestyle you’ve always wanted!


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