Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Psssst! Want to know a Secret to Longevity?

Finding the 'right tribe' can support healthy behaviors

Blue Zones Project communities see measurable impact on well-being

FRANKLIN, Tenn., Feb. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Connections matter. Expanding your social circle to include healthy-minded and supportive people might be one of the most significant ways to add happy and quality years to your life. Belonging to the "right tribe" -- that is to say, a group of positive, encouraging friends — can change and improve a person's lifestyle, at least according to some of the world's longest living people.

That's no secret for Blue Zones Project®, a community well-being improvement initiative designed to help people lead longer, better lives by making healthy choices easier. In Blue Zones Project communities, of which there are now 37 throughout the country, the concept of finding the Right Tribe is one of nine keys to greater longevity. Called the Power 9, these principles are proven to support longevity, and are based on lifestyles in pockets of the world called Blue Zones®, where people are most likely to reach age 100 and beyond with lower rates of chronic diseases and increased quality of life.


In California's "Beach Cities" --a certified Blue Zones Community® made up of the three cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach--a Right Tribe focus is part of an overall effort to nudge residents to healthier behaviors and support those behaviors where people live, work, and play. Since implementing Blue Zones Project in 2010, the Beach Cities noted a 9 percent drop in significant daily stress--as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®.

The community, where Blue Zones Project efforts are led by Beach Cities Health District, boasts 2,000 Moai participants, who gather socially in groups to walk, find purpose, and enjoy potlucks. One group is the OceanWalkers, which launched in 2010 and continues to add new members while retaining most of its original walkers.

OceanWalkers member Irwin Brand joined the Moai in 2011. "I am sure my health has improved as a result of walking at least 16 miles per week. However, what has been even more important is the fact that my wife and I have met a group of great people," 88-year-old Brand said. "It's not just exercise; it's finding out what our friends did over the weekend or what movies they saw, or meeting their sons or daughters who occasionally join us."


The "right tribe" movement is also alive and walking in Fort Worth, Texas, a Blue Zones Project demonstration site that officially kicked off efforts in 2015. After engaging restaurants, worksites, grocers, schools, and individuals in the initiative, the city reported gains in its overall well-being score. The most recent Well-Being Index showed an increase of 2.6 points, from 58.8 percent in 2014 to 61.4 percent in 2016. Texas Health Resources, a leading regional healthcare provider, worked with city leaders and the Chamber of Commerce to bring the project to Fort Worth.

In one case, an entire neighborhood joined the Right Tribe efforts--with the people of White Lake Hills building close bonds through a variety of Walking and Potluck Moais. One group, called the 7 a.m. Walkers, consists of women who did not really know each other prior to beginning daily walks. They now rely on each other for emotional support and even travel together. The right tribe concept is expanding throughout the neighborhood to engage older, isolated residents. 

"Before we started taking part in Blue Zones Project, White Lake Hills was split between elderly, original homeowners and newer families. Our Moais became a bridge between those groups," said Linda Fulmer, a resident who helped coordinate efforts. "Good relationships are central to well-being, and there's no doubt we've improved our health and happiness."

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