Less Stress, More Happy with a Blue Zones Approach for Seniors

Senior couple relaxing at ocean

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. 



Raise your hand if you’ve been extra stressed so far this year. How could you not be with the COVID-19 pandemic going on? The uncertainty, the fear and the restrictions have undoubtedly taken their toll on all of us. But there is a way to reduce stress that’s practiced by residents in Blue Zones®, five regions in the world where people seem to live the longest. Here’s what they do and how seniors can apply their approach.

For more information on how we incorporate the Blue Zones’ approach to fitness in senior living, check out our Successful Secrets to Aging Guide!

senior living guide to aging well

Why You Should Worry about Stress

Stress isn’t good for anyone, but according to Harvard Medical School seniors are particularly vulnerable to the health issues it can cause including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Increased risk for heart disease

Not sure if you’re stressed or not? Some of the telltale symptoms are tension headaches, indigestion, heart palpitations, poor concentration, sleep difficulties, anxiety, irritability, crying and/or overeating.

De-Stressing in the Blue Zones

Blue Zones regions include: Sardinia, Italy; the Greek island of Ikaria; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica and Okinawa, Japan. Research in these regions has found that residents share similar lifestyle traits known as the Power 9® which help them to age well.  We’ve discussed all these traits in past blogs , but one that specifically related to stress is known as Downshift.

In Blue Zones, residents certainly have stress like we do, but they “Downshift” by incorporating routines to help them manage it such as taking a few moments each day to remember their ancestors (Okinawans), praying (Adventists), taking a nap (Ikarians) and happy hour (Sardinians).

How You Can Stress Less

You can apply the same approach to manage the stress in your life. In thinking about what to incorporate into your routine, focus on things that trigger the opposite response such as relaxation and happiness. For example:

  • Practice Gratitude – It’s surprising how a bit of perspective can lower your stress level! You might try making a list of 4-5 things you are grateful for in which to reference when feeling stressed, or keep a daily gratitude journal which can also serve as a nice record of some of your most fond memories.
  • Embrace Your Spiritual Side – Regularly participate in faith-based activities (another Blue Zones’ Lifestyle Trait – Belong), or connect spiritually through meditation which can take many forms such as Tai Chi, yoga, breathing deeply, repeating a mantra and/or spending time reflecting in nature.
  • Sleep Better – Very few people actually get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night required to restore your body.  To do so, follow a regular sleep schedule, minimize naps, have a bedtime routine to wind down, create a safe, comfortable place to sleep (minus the devices!).

Blue Zones’ research has also identified drivers of happiness such as doing meaningful work, socializing daily – even owning a dog! But one that we find particularly important is living in the right environment.

Worry-Free in Senior Living

As we age, one of our biggest stressors can be maintaining the home. Senior living offers a solution. Our communities are designed for your convenience and comfort with beautiful grounds, spacious accommodations and amenities such as fitness centers, fabulous dining, housekeeping and laundry services as well as a range of opportunities to socialize and find purpose. Plus, we’re pet friendly! What’s more, our residents have the added peace of mind that support is available however their care needs evolve.

Vitality Living half Blossom
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