Use inspiration from our healthiest places to live to improve the lifestyle in your own town.
1. From Southern California: Walk More
Start a "walking Moai" (pronounced mow-eye). Five years ago, Parade wrote about a Redondo Beach Blue Zones group —13 walkers from their 40s to 80s. Today, the Ocean Walkers Moai (pictured below) is still going strong with 40 members, ages 50 to 91. "We walk 3.5 miles a day four days a week along the ocean, and there are usually 10 to 20 walkers on any given day," says Joan Edelmann, 72. "Our Moai remains a very warm and welcoming family. We celebrate birthdays, holidays and just watching the sun set at the beach." Last year, one of group's walkers, who is 87, became legally blind. "He learned how to use a white cane because it was important for him to keep walking," Edelmann says. "Moai members take turns picking him up for our walks and social activities."
2. From Pittsburgh: Build Community
See if your town, like this one, is an age-friendly community, prioritizing intergenerational projects that provide health-boosting social purpose. Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, for example, brought together older become an age-friendly community. If nothing else, put a bench in your front yard to encourage neighborhood interaction and conversation.
3. From Charleston: Eat More Plants!
You don't have to go vegetarian, but making small changes toward a plant-based diet — like "beans and greens" twice a week — will add up to a healthier diet. Try our recipe for a delicious grain bowl from the new book The Blue Zones Kitchen by Dan Buettner (see page 14). It's full of fresh veggies and healthy nonmeat protein.
4. From Minneapolis & Breckenridge: Get Outside
Try biking or walking to work or to do errands — active commuters have much lower risk of early death, studies show. Cold outside? No problem. Folks in Minnesota and Colorado bundle up and get out there, heading to ice festivals, skiing cross-country trails or hiking in the park.
5. From Naples: Play Pickleball!
Yes, the badminton/ping-pong-like game has become the rage all over the world, but Florida may just be the capital of pickleball. In fact, this year Naples will host the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships for the It's often played in doubles, so it's not too strenuous, and it's a true community builder. More and more retirement and recreation centers have courts inside and out.