The Adventist Health mission to live God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness, and hope is rooted in Jesus’ ministry of healing and the distinctive Seventh-day Adventist tradition of healthcare and healthful living. As part of that mission, Adventist Health is leading a well-being transformation movement that broadens the organization’s focus from solely caring for the sick to helping people live longer and better.
Adventist Health teams are inspiring this transformation by improving well-being and longevity in communities across the nation through Blue Zones, a nationally recognized leader in well-being that Adventist Health acquired in 2020. This work started with the more than 30,000 Adventist Health employees in Washington, Oregon, and California and is moving outside the organization to local Blue Zones Projects across the country. Two such projects are underway in St. Helena, California, and Walla Walla, Washington. More than 50 additional communities across North America are engaging in Blue Zones Projects, impacting more than 3.4 million Americans. Participating communities have experienced double digit drops in obesity and tobacco use and have saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
Blue Zones employs evidence-based methods to help people live longer and better. The organization was founded in 2008 by Dan Buettner, who partnered with a multidisciplinary team of scientists sponsored by National Geographic and the National Institutes of Health to research “blue zones,” or longevity hotspots, across the globe and to identify the lifestyle habits these different zones had in common.
The original blue zones are diverse geographical and cultural regions—Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California—where residents live extraordinarily long and/or happy lives. Residents of these regions have nine commonalities, known as the Power 9, which together contribute to physical, social, and emotional well-being. (See sidebar for more about the Power 9.)
Roughly 80% of a person’s health can be attributed to health behaviors, the physical environment, and socioeconomic factors—while clinical healthcare makes up just 20%. The Adventist Health well-being movement will focus on taking steps to improve factors related to that 80% and providing a path forward for individuals to improve their health and resilience.
Learn more about Blue Zones at bluezones.com, and find lifestyle news and tips at adventisthealth.org/blog.
By Kim Strobel
Longer, Better Life Through the Power 9
1. Move Naturally. The world’s longest-lived people make moving their bodies part of daily life.
2. Purpose. Having a sense of purpose can help people live up to seven years longer. Articulate your values, passions, gifts, and talents, then apply your strengths and purpose to your daily life.
3. Downshift. Unmanaged stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which is tied to every major age-related disease. Enjoy rest and rejuvenation, especially on Sabbath.
4. 80% Rule. Stop eating when you feel 80% full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing and gaining weight.
5. Plant Slant. Aim to fill 95% of your plate with plants or plant products. Eat legumes, fresh fruit and vegetables, and nuts.
6. Friends at 5. The benefits of daily connection with friends and family come from ending work at a reasonable hour and enjoying time each day to destress and socialize.
7. Belong. Faith and fellowship can serve as a powerful source for longevity. Enjoy Sabbath as a weekly break and focus on family, faith, and nature.
8. Loved Ones First. Putting loved ones first and having aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home can lower disease and mortality rates of everyone in the family. Committing to a spouse can add up to three years of life expectancy. People who live in healthy families with strong ties experience lower rates of depression, suicide, and stress.
9. Right Tribe. A lifelong circle of friends can provide the stress-shedding security of knowing there is always someone there for you.