1. Home
  2. Science
  3. Health
  4. news
  5. Blue Zones researcher Dan Buettner is ditching New Year's resolutions for this 4-pronged 'optimized' healthy lifestyle instead

Blue Zones researcher Dan Buettner is ditching New Year's resolutions for this 4-pronged 'optimized' healthy lifestyle instead

Hilary Brueck   

Blue Zones researcher Dan Buettner is ditching New Year's resolutions for this 4-pronged 'optimized' healthy lifestyle instead
  • Dan Buettner has spent more than 20 years studying what helps people in "Blue Zones" live well.
  • He's incorporated their tips on diet, exercise, and motivation into his own life.

It seems like every time I talk to Dan Buettner, he's making minestrone soup.

The man who started trekking to longevity hotspots referred to as "Blue Zones" more than 20 years ago says he is experiencing a newfound level of celebrity, on the heels of his chart-topping Netflix docuseries, "Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones." But he still finds time to get out his slow cooker and boil a hearty pot of beans almost every day.

"I'm kind of a big deal right now, in the Ron Burgundy sense of the word," he said.

His Netflix show quickly soared to the most-watched spot on Netflix when it premiered in August 2023. Viewers were transported to hidden corners of Costa Rica, Greece, Italy, and California. Inside these Blue Zones, people miraculously seemed to enjoy life well into very old age, with relatively few health problems. But they're not big resolution-makers.

While the rest of us may be busy setting up lofty goals for 2024, making promises to get to the gym more or drink less, Buettner is not. After studying people living in the five so-called Blue Zones for more than two decades now, he's determined there's no way these people would ever endorse a short-lived New Year's resolution. What they do for their own health takes a lifelong commitment. And, importantly, it's also effortlessly integrated into their daily schedules. This is the longevity lifestyle he's tried to emulate and export for many years.

"I'll learn some new recipes," Buettner told me of his 2024 plans. "But I think I live pretty much an optimal lifestyle right now." His four cornerstone habits are simple, time-tested and research-backed.

Buettner credits a four-pillared approach to his longevity lifestyle

He moves every day

"I exercise every day," he said. "I don't call it exercise, I do something fun and active."

Bike riding and pickleball are two of his favorite picks. Longevity experts unanimously agree that exercise is just about the best anti-aging intervention available, with numerous, multi-layered benefits for the entire body, including our immune systems and even DNA repair.

He cooks

"I eat mostly whole food," Buettner said.

Vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains are the cornerstones of the longevity-promoting diets of people living in Blue Zones. There just isn't much room in their diet for ultraprocessed sweets or other manufactured snacks.

He enjoys time with his people

"I have really great friends," Buettner said.

Studies suggest strong social connections and good relationships have a real impact on human longevity. Biologically, us humans need other people to feel safe, healthy, and content.

He's got a purpose

Studies also suggest a strong sense of purpose and meaning in life can boost longevity. People in Buettner's Blue Zones have different names for this idea, from "Plan de Vida" in Costa Rica, to "Ikigai" in Japan.

"I'm excited because I think I've found some new Blue Zones, and my way of pursuing living to 100 is learning from people who've achieved it," Buettner said.

Turns out (as you may have suspected) there are more than just five places around the world where people have developed a homegrown formula for long lives and happiness.

"So, I'm going to go learn from some more longevity all-stars this year — in three new locations," he said.